When a worker passes away from a work-related injury or illness, his or her surviving dependents are eligible to receive benefits. 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 Connecticut workers’ comp benefits.)
The following family members are “presumed dependents” of the deceased worker:
Other individuals who relied on the worker for financial support, in whole or in part, may also qualify for benefits—but only if there are no presumed dependents. These individuals are called “dependents in fact.” Unlike other states, Connecticut does not restrict eligibility to certain blood relatives.
Death benefits are 75% of the worker’s average weekly wage, up to a maximum amount set by law each year. As of July 1, 2017, the maximum weekly death benefit is $1,287. (For current rates, visit the website of the Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Commission.)
If there is a spouse or child who qualifies as a presumed dependent, they will receive death benefits. Distribution is as follows:
If the worker does not leave behind a spouse or children, people who can show that they were wholly dependent on the worker can receive death benefits in the same amount as presumed dependents. The Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Commission will divide the weekly benefit award among the dependents based on how much they relied on the worker for support. Partial dependents can receive either $20 per week, or the amount that the worker actually contributed to them, whichever is greater. Benefits are paid for a maximum of 312 weeks.
Workers' comp also pays up to $4,000 for funeral and burial expenses to the worker’s dependents, or if none, to the person who paid for the expenses.
Dependents must file a claim for death benefits with the Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Commission within one year of the date of death or within two years of the date of the work accident, whichever is later. However, it’s best to file a 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 a Connecticut workers’ comp lawyer costs.)