Work is one of the most dangerous places to be. Thousands of people are injured on the job, and about a dozen people lose their lives each year in Vermont while working. Losing a loved one to a work-related accident is painful. In addition to grief, many surviving family members are left with fears about how they will financially support themselves. Fortunately, Vermont provides a death benefit to certain family members. Contact the Vermont workers’ compensation lawyers at Larson & Gallivan Law to learn more.
Who Qualifies for the Death Benefit?
21 VSA §634 identifies who is eligible. First, a surviving spouse and minor children will qualify for the death benefit. An adult child with a disability can qualify as well. Parents, grandparents, siblings and grandchildren might sometimes qualify depending on the circumstances.
When Am I Eligible for a Death Benefit?
Your loved one’s death must have been caused by work. Sometimes this is obvious. If a gas tank exploded or your loved one fell from a roof, then death might be instantaneous. Other people die within a few days from serious bodily injuries suffered in work accidents.
Other cases are less clear. For example, your loved one might have been poisoned from exposure to toxic substances at work. Only years later do they develop cancer or another fatal condition. An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can help establish the necessary link between work and your loved one’s death. Without this link, you and your family cannot receive the death benefit.
How Much Are My Benefits?
The weekly payment will depend on who survives the worker:
- If you are a spouse with no dependent children, then you can receive 66.67% of the deceased’s average weekly wage (AWW).
- If you are a spouse with one dependent child, then 71.67% of the AWW.
- If you are a spouse with two or more dependent children, then 76.23% of the AWW.
When no spouse survives but there are dependent children, then the children split the following amounts:
- If one child survives, then 66.67% of the AWW.
- If two children survive, they split 71.67% of the AWW.
- If three or more children survive, they split 76.23% of the AWW.
The family also receives compensation for burial and funeral expenses not to exceed $10,000.
How Long Can I Receive Death Benefits?
Surviving spouses can usually receive the weekly benefit until they remarry or die, or if they reach age 62 and qualify for Social Security benefits, whichever comes first. A spouse should receive the weekly benefit for a minimum of 330 weeks, unless the weekly payment stops because of death. Consult an attorney for more information.
Children can receive benefits until they are no longer a dependent as defined under the law. For most children, this will mean when they reach age 18 or leave school. A disabled adult child could receive benefits for life.
We Are Here During this Difficult Time
After losing a parent, spouse, or child, the last thing you are thinking about is a workers’ compensation claim. Nevertheless, many hurdles confront family members trying to get the benefits they deserve. If you need help, pleasecontact our office today at 802-327-8458.