Hawaii Workers' Comp Death Benefits: Eligibility & Amounts

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

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,” 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 Hawaii workers’ comp benefits.)

Who is Eligible for Death Benefits in Hawaii?

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

  • a spouse who was living with the worker at the time of the injury or who was actually dependent on the worker for financial support
  • an unmarried child under 18 or a married child under 18 who depended on the worker for support
  • an unmarried child under 22 who is enrolled in school full-time (up to the college level)
  • an unmarried child of any age who is unable to support himself or herself

If the worker does not leave a spouse or dependent children, other family members who actually depended on the worker for financial support can qualify—including parents, grandparents, grandchildren, or siblings. However, grandchildren or siblings must either be under 18 or incapable of supporting themselves and must have been wholly dependent on the worker.

How Much Are Death Benefits in Hawaii?

The amount of death benefits are based on a percentage of the worker’s prior earnings and depend on which family members are eligible. Benefits for all eligible family members combined cannot be more than 66 2/3% of the worker’s average weekly wages. The total weekly benefit also cannot be more than the state maximum benefit rate. (See the website of the Hawaii Disability Compensation Division for current rates.)

Death benefits are paid weekly, the following order of priority:

  • If there is only a spouse. The spouse receives 50% of the worker’s average weekly wage.
  • If there is a spouse and one or more child. The spouse receives 66 2/3% of the worker’s average weekly wage, for the benefit of the spouse and one or more children.
  • If there is one or more children but no spouse. If there is one child, the child receives 40%. If there are two or more children, they share 66 2/3%.
  • No spouse or children. In this case, dependent parents will receive benefits. A totally dependent parent receives 50% of the worker’s average weekly wage; a partially dependent parent receives 25%. If there are two dependent parents, they share the benefit equally.
  • No spouse, children, or dependent parents. Dependent grandparents receive the death benefits, in the same manner as dependent parents would have.
  • No spouse, children, or dependent parents or grandparents. Dependent grandchildren and siblings can receive death benefits. If there is one dependent, the amount is 35%. The percentage increases by 15% for each additional dependent in this category, up to a maximum of 66 2/3%. All dependents share the benefit equally.
  • No spouse, children, or any dependent family members. In this case, nondependent parents will receive a lump sum equal to 25% of 312 times the state’s maximum weekly benefit rate.

How Long Do Death Benefits Last?

Death benefits end when a spouse dies or remarries. However, the spouse can receive a lump sum worth of two years’ of benefits upon remarriage. A dependent child continues to receive weekly payments as long as they meet the eligibility requirements described above. For example, minor children will receive payments until they reach 18, unless they continue on to higher education.

A dependent parent or grandparent will continue to receive benefits as long as they are dependent on the payments for financial support. A grandchild or sibling will receive benefits until they turn 18 or become able to support themselves.

In all cases, the total amount paid cannot be more than 312 times the maximum weekly benefit rate in Hawaii. However, this does not include payments to an unmarried spouse or child who is physically or mentally incapable of supporting themselves.

How Much Are Funeral and Burial Expenses in Hawaii?

Workers' comp must pay for funeral costs up to ten times the maximum weekly benefit rate in Hawaii. For 2018, this sum is $8,830. Workers’ comp must also pay for burial expenses up to five times the maximum weekly benefit rate in Hawaii. For 2018, this sum is $4,415. Payments are made directly to the mortician and cemetery selected by the workers’ family. However, if the deceased worker prepaid for funeral and burial costs, the reimbursements go to the worker’s surviving spouse or reciprocal beneficiary.

When Should I File a Death Benefits Claim?

You should inform your loved one’s employer as soon as possible after he or she passes away due to a work injury. The employer or its insurance company should give you any necessary paperwork to file your claim for death benefits. If the employer isn’t helpful, contact the Hawaii Disability Compensation Division.

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 Hawaii workers’ comp lawyer costs.

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