When a worker passes away from a work-related injury or illness, his or her surviving dependents are eligible to receive benefits through workers’ compensation. Called “death benefits” or “dependency benefits,” these sums are available to the worker’s spouse, children, or other dependents who relied on the worker for financial support. (To learn about compensation for injured workers, see our article on Arizona workers’ comp benefits.)
Who is Eligible for Death Benefits in Arizona?
The following family members are entitled to death benefits:
- a spouse
- a child under 18
- a child under 22 who is a full-time student at an accredited educational institution, or
- a child of any age who is incapable of self-support.
If a worker leaves no spouse or children behind, other family members who were totally or partially dependent on the worker for financial support can qualify for death benefits, including:
- parents, and
- siblings under 18.
How Much Are Death Benefits in Arizona?
Death benefits are based on the worker’s average monthly wage prior to the work-related injury or illness. The maximum percentage family members can receive combined is 66 2/3% of the worker’s average monthly wage. However, the benefit cannot be more than the maximum set by state law. In 2018, the maximum monthly benefit is $4,625.92. (For current rates, visit the maximum benefit page at website the Industrial Commission of Arizona.)
Death benefits are paid in the following order of priority:
- If there is a spouse only. The spouse receives 66 2/3% of the worker’ average monthly wage. Benefits continue until the spouse dies or remarries. Upon remarriage, the spouse receives a lump sum award of two years’ worth of benefits.
- If there is a spouse and child. If there is at least one child, the spouse receives 35% of the average monthly wage. The children will share the other 31 2/3% equally. If a spouse remarries, his or her share is redistributed among the children.
- If there is child but no spouse. If there is one child, the child will receive 66 2/3%. If there is more than one child, they will share that amount equally. Children receive payments until they die, marry, or reach the age limits described above. However, children can continue to receive payments even after reaching 18 or 22 (if a full-time student) if they are incapable of self-support.
- No spouse or children. In that case, parents who depended on the worker for financial support will receive benefits. If there is one wholly dependent parent, the parent will receive 25%. If there are two wholly dependent parents, they share 40% equally. If the parents are partial dependents only, they share 15%. Partial dependents receive benefits for a maximum of 100 weeks.
- No spouse, children, or dependent parents. In that case, siblings under 18 who were dependent on the worker can receive benefits. If there is one wholly dependent sibling, the sibling receives 25%. If there are two or more wholly dependent siblings, they share 35% equally. If there are partial dependents only, the siblings share 15%. Partial dependents receive benefits for a maximum of 100 weeks.
Workers' comp also pays for up to $5,000 in burial expenses.
What Are the Time Limits for a Death Benefits Claim?
Dependents must file a claim for death benefits with the Arizona Industrial Commission within one year of the worker’s death. However, it’s best to file your claim as soon as possible.
If you’re having trouble collecting workers’ comp death benefits, you should consult with a workers’ comp lawyer. To learn more, see our article on how much an Arizona workers’ comp lawyer costs.)