Florida Workers' Comp Death Benefits: Eligibility & Amounts

Surviving family members can collect benefits through workers’ comp when an injured worker passes away in Florida.

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 Florida workers’ comp benefits.)

Who is Eligible for Death Benefits in Florida?

A worker’s dependents—those who relied on the worker for financial support—are eligible to receive death benefits. The following family members qualify as dependents:

  • a spouse
  • a child under the age of 18—or under the age of 22, if a full-time student, and
  • a child of any age who is physically or mentally unable to earn a living.

If there is no spouse or child, the worker’s parents, siblings, and grandchildren can qualify as dependents if they relied on the worker for financial support.

The worker’s death must have occurred within one year of the accident, or within five years of the accident if it resulted in continuous disability.

How Much Are Death Benefits in Florida?

Benefits are paid on a weekly basis, according to the following order of priority:

  • If there is a spouse but no children. The spouse will receive 50% of the worker’s average weekly wages prior to the worker’s death.
  • If there is a spouse and one or more children. The spouse will receive 50% of the worker’s average weekly wage, and another 16 2/3% on behalf of the children. However, a Florida workers’ compensation judge can decide on a different allocation if it would be in the best interest of the parties.
  • If there are children but no spouse. If there is no spouse, or if the surviving spouse later passes away, each child will receive 33 1/3% of the worker’s average weekly wage (but not more than 66 2/3% total).
  • If there is no spouse or child. In this case, the worker’s dependent parents would each receive 25% of the worker’s average weekly wage. Or, if there are no parents, the worker’s dependent siblings and grandchildren would each receive 15% of the average weekly wage. (However, dependents cannot receive more than a combined total of 66 2/3%.)

The workers' comp insurance company must also pay actual funeral expenses, but no more than $7,500, to the deceased worker’s surviving family. A spouse may also receive payment for educational expenses. However, the total compensation paid in death benefits, funeral expenses, and other costs cannot exceed $150,000 for all dependents. Children stop receiving benefits once they turn 18, or once they turn 22 if they are full-time students. This age limit does not apply to children who are incapable of earning a living.

What Are the Time Limits for a Death Benefits Claim?

Dependents must file a claim petition for death benefits with the Florida Office of the Judges of Compensation Claims within two years after they know, or should know, that the worker’s death was caused by a work-related injury or illness. The worker’s employer must also typically be notified of the worker’s death within 30 days of the death.

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 Florida workers’ comp lawyer costs.)

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