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Do Workers’ Comp Benefits Go to Dependents if the Recipient Dies?

October 11, 2021

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Workplace injuries don’t only affect the people who are injured—they can also put workers’ families and the people who depend on their income at risk of financial ruin. When people are too hurt to work, they aren’t earning paychecks. That means no way to pay for rent/mortgage, car or student loan payments, utilities, groceries, and everything else that makes up a monthly budget. 

Workers’ compensation helps protect workers’ income while they’re recovering from their injuries, but what happens to their families if they die either from their injuries or while receiving benefits? Thankfully, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) recognizes these potential scenarios and has plans in place for surviving family members.

The BWC Pays Death Benefits to Families of Workers Who Are Killed on the Job or Due to Occupational Diseases

People who may be eligible for ongoing death benefits after their loved one dies while at work or due to an occupational disease include:

  • Spouse
  • Dependent children under age 18
  • Dependent children between the ages of 18 and 25 who are attending an accredited educational institution on a full-time basis
  • Dependent children age 18 and older who are physically or mentally incapacitated

The BWC calculates and divides death benefits among all eligible dependents, and they’re distributed every two weeks. Families may also receive a one-time payment of $5,500 for funeral expenses.

To apply for death benefits, surviving family members should complete the Application for Death Benefits and/or Funeral Expenses (C-5) form on the BWC website.

Family Members of Deceased Workers’ Comp Recipients Can Get Accrued Compensation

When someone has already been approved for workers’ compensation benefits and they pass away, the BWC will continue to pay the unpaid portion—or accrued compensation—of their compensation award to those eligible for the deceased’s benefits. There are a few people and parties who are eligible to receive this, including:

  • A dependent, including a surviving spouse and/or children
  • A party that paid for services pertaining to the injured worker’s death, such as funeral expenses
  • The injured worker’s estate if he or she has no eligible dependents and no parties rendered services upon his or her death

People who want to receive accrued compensation must apply for it from the BWC by completing an Application for Accrued Compensation (C-6) form and submitting it to the BWC. They must also include proof of their relationship with the deceased injured worker, which may include:

  • Marriage certificate or birth certificate
  • Invoice or proof of payment for services rendered upon the injured worker’s death
  • Proof of executor status and the estate’s tax identification number if the accrued compensation is going to the deceased worker’s estate

Dependents or parties who believe they have a claim to a deceased injured worker’s accrued compensation must apply for it within two years of the date of the worker’s death. If the deceased worker died before their workers’ compensation claim was finalized or before the application process began, applying for accrued compensation must occur within one year of their death.

Getting Approved for Accrued Compensation or Death Benefits Isn’t Guaranteed

Just as injured workers often face roadblocks when applying for workers’ compensation benefits, so too will their families when they apply for accrued compensation or death benefits after their loved ones pass away. The BWC is notoriously strict when it comes to approving claims, and minor oversights and errors can result in rejections that can take months or even years to appeal.

Don’t go any longer without the money you need for your family. Contact the Ohio workers’ compensation lawyers at Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy today for a free consultation. We have the experience, resources, and track record of success your family needs to file a successful benefits application with the BWC.

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