You might be eligible for death benefits in Delaware if a loved one dies from a work-related injury or illness. Under Delaware workers’ compensation law, eligible family members receive death benefits based on the deceased employee’s prior earnings. This article explains who is eligible for death benefits, how much death benefits are, and how to file a claim for death benefits. (Other types of Delaware workers’ comp benefits are available to injured workers.)
Eligibility for death benefits in Delaware is based on your relationship to the deceased employee and whether you depended on the employee financially. Benefits are paid in the following order of priority:
Children and siblings are eligible until they turn 18 years old, unless they are enrolled as full-time students at an accredited educational institution. In that case, they are eligible for benefits until they turn 25 years old. However, adult children and siblings who are mentally or physically handicapped are eligible for benefits regardless of age.
Spouses are entitled to benefits only if they lived with the employee or were receiving (or had the right to receive) support at the time of death.
Compensation is calculated as a percentage of the deceased employee’s average weekly wage. However, benefits are capped at the statewide average weekly wage determined each year. Currently, the maximum weekly rate is $686.99 as of July 1, 2017.
Benefits are awarded to eligible family members according to the following terms:
The minimum benefits paid to a spouse can’t be less than 22 2/9% of the average weekly state wage, and the compensation for any child can’t be less than $10 per week, unless the total maximum benefits are being paid.
Spouses are entitled to compensation until they die or remarry. Upon remarriage, a spouse will receive a final lump-sum payment of two years’ worth of benefits. Children receive benefits until they turn 18 (or 25, if full-time students). All other dependents are limited to 400 weeks of payments.
The employer must pay reasonable burial and funeral expenses up to $3,500. However, the Delaware Industrial Accident Board may approve a bill for more than $3,500 if the expenses are reasonable.
Immediately notify the worker’s employer, in writing, of the employee’s death. If the employer’s insurance provider denies your claim, file an application with the Office of Workers’ Compensation for a hearing with the Industrial Accident Board. This application must be filed within two years of the employee’s death. Talk to a Delaware worker’s comp lawyer about how to file a claim and how to appeal an unfavorable decision.