When a worker passes away from a work-related injury or illness, his or her surviving dependents are eligible to receive benefits through workers’ comp in Idaho. 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 Idaho workers’ comp benefits.)
Who is Eligible for Death Benefits in Idaho?
A worker’s dependents are eligible to receive death benefits when the worker dies as a result of a work-related injury or illness within four years of the date of the accident or manifestation of an occupational illness.
The following family members are considered dependents without needing to show that they actually relied on the worker for financial support:
- a spouse who was living with the worker or living separately for a justifiable cause
- a child under the age of 18, or if enrolled in school full time, under the age of 23, and
- a child of any age who is not married and incapable of supporting himself or herself.
The following family members are considered dependents if they can show that they actually relied on the worker for support:
- a spouse not living with the employee without a justifiable cause who was totally or partially dependent
- a parent who was totally or partially dependent
- a grandparent who was totally or partially dependent
- a grandchild under the age of 18 or incapable of self-support who was totally dependent, and
- a sibling under the age of 18 or incapable of self-support who was totally dependent.
The dependency must have existed at the time of the worker’s accident or injury, not just at the time of death.
How Much Are Death Benefits in Idaho?
Death benefits are based on a percentage of the worker’s average weekly wage. However, the total benefits paid to all dependents combined cannot be more than 60% of the worker’s average weekly wage. The benefit also cannot be more than the maximum set by law each year for temporary total disability. For 2018, the maximum weekly benefit is $677.70. (For the current rates, visit the Idaho Industrial Commission’s website.)
Death benefits are paid in the following amounts and order of priority:
- Spouse and no children. If there is a spouse but no dependent children, the spouse will receive 45% of the worker’s average weekly wage.
- Spouse and children. If there is a spouse and one or more children, the spouse receives the following for all of their benefits: 45% and an additional 5% per child, up to a maximum of three children. For example, if the spouse has four children with the worker, the spouse will receive 60% of the average weekly wage.
- Children but no spouse. If there is only one child, the child will receive 30%. If there are multiple children, the benefit is increased by 10% for each additional child, for up to three children. For example, if there are three children, the total benefit is 50%, to be shared equally by the children.
- Parents. If the worker has no spouse or children, but leaves behind one totally dependent parent, the parent receives 25%. If there are two totally dependent parents, they each receive 20%. Partially dependent parents receive a reduced share, in proportion to how much they relied on the worker. If the worker does leave behind a spouse or child, the parents can receive benefits only to the extent that it will not exceed 60% of the worker’s average weekly wage. For example, if there is a spouse who is receiving 45%, totally dependent parents could share 15%.
- Siblings, grandparents, grandchildren. If there is no spouse, child, or parent, a totally dependent sibling, grandparent, or grandchild can receive 20%. If there are two or more dependents in this category, they share 30%. If there are no total dependents in this category, but there is one or more partially dependent grandparents, they share 10%. If there is a spouse, child, or parent receiving benefits, family members in this category may receive benefits only to the extent that it will not exceed 60% of the worker’s average weekly wage.
How Long Are Death Benefits Paid?
A spouse receives benefits until death or remarriage, but not longer than 500 weeks. Upon remarriage, the spouse can receive a lump sum of whichever is less: 100 weeks of benefits or the remainder of the 500-week period of benefits. For example, if the spouse has already received 450 weeks of benefits at the time of the marriage, he or she will receive 50 weeks of benefits in a lump sum.
Children receive benefits until they turn 18, or if they are enrolled in school full time, until they turn 23. However, children who are incapable of supporting themselves will continue to receive benefits for up to 500 weeks. Benefits for children end earlier if they marry. Benefits for all other family members are capped at 500 weeks.
How Much Are Burial Benefits?
Workers' comp also pays for actual funeral and burial costs, up to $6,000, to whoever incurred the expenses or to the worker’s personal representative.
What Are the Time Limits for a Death Claim?
Dependents must file a claim for death benefits with the Idaho Industrial Commission within one year of the worker’s death. If you’re having trouble collecting workers’ comp death benefits, you should call the Idaho Industrial Commission or consult with a workers’ comp lawyer. To learn more, see our article on how much an Idaho workers’ comp lawyer costs