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Can an Estate Receive Workers’ Compensation Benefits When a Worker Is Killed?

The estate of workers in Illinois can receive death benefits when a worker is killed on the job. This helps families recover from the aftermath of the unexpected accident or illness and the resulting loss of income. Many individuals may be able to claim long-term death benefits after a work-related fatality. These benefits are allocated based on the recipient’s relationship to the deceased and the level of dependence the recipient had on the individual’s income.

Eligibility for Death Benefits

When a fatality is caused by an accident at work, long-term death benefits can be paid to the individual’s spouse and minor children. Benefits may also be paid to dependent parents and other family members who are were at least 50% dependent upon the deceased’s support at the time of the death.

Determining Priority

Under Illinois workers’ compensation law, the deceased’s spouse and children are given the highest priority when determining who will receive death benefits. If the worker was unmarried and had no children, the parents are next in line. If the parents are deceased or were not otherwise dependent upon the deceased’s income, benefits may be paid to other dependent family members such as brothers and sisters. However, benefits may be reduced based on the total financial dependency.

Calculating Benefits

Beneficiaries are entitled to receive a one-time payment of $8,000 to cover funeral costs. Following this lump sum payment, an individual’s death benefit is calculated at 2/3 of the worker’s gross weekly wage that was earned in the year immediately proceeding the death. Previous earnings and potential earnings are not factored into the equation when calculating the deceased’s earnings and the benefits for survivors and dependents.

Benefits can be paid at a minimum of $548 per week and a maximum of $1,463 per week for a fully dependent family. Payment amounts are adjusted for family members who are partially dependent. Payments continue for a maximum of 25 years or until a total sum of $500,000 has been paid. Should a surviving spouse remarry, benefits may be discontinued. However, payments would continue for eligible children. In the event of remarriage, the beneficiary receives a lump sum payment equal to two years of the weekly benefit.

Benefits are subject to cost of living increases and begin to adjust two years after the initial award is made.

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