You might be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if a loved one dies from a work-related injury. Under Kansas law, eligible dependents 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.
Certain dependents are eligible for death benefits under Kansas law. Eligibility depends on your relationship to, and financial dependence on, the deceased employee at the time the work-related accident or injury happened. Those who were wholly dependent on the employee for financial support are first in line for benefits.
Death benefits are paid in the following order of priority in Kansas:
To qualify for benefits, children must be:
“Children” include birth children, adopted children, stepchildren who live in the employee’s household, and any child related by blood or marriage who is wholly or partially dependent on the employee.
If there is a spouse and/or dependent children, they will receive a $60,000 lump-sum payment upfront and weekly payments equal to two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly wage. Half of the benefits go to the spouse, and the other half is divided among the children. However, weekly benefits cannot be less than a statewide minimum or more than a statewide maximum set by law each year. The maximum weekly benefit through June 30, 2018 is $631; the minimum benefit is $421.
Spouses may receive benefits for their entire lifetime, even if they remarry. The maximum amount of compensation paid to all dependents, including the initial lump-sum payment, cannot be more than $300,000. However, minor children will still continue receiving weekly benefits until they turn 18 years old.
If there is no surviving spouse or dependent children, other wholly dependent family members will receive weekly benefits until death or remarriage. However, these dependents cannot receive more than 50 percent of their support from any other earnings or income and the maximum benefits paid can’t exceed $100,000, regardless of the number of dependents.
If there are no wholly dependent survivors, those who partially depended on the employee for financial support are eligible for weekly benefits. The total benefits among all partial dependents is three times the employee’s average yearly earnings but cannot be less than $25,000 or more than $100,000.
If there are no partially or wholly dependent survivors, the employee’s legal heirs will receive a lump sum payment of $100,000.
The employer must pay reasonable burial expenses, up to $10,000. If the court appoints a conservator to take care of the employee’s financial matters, the employer must also pay those costs up to $2,500.
The Kansas Division of Workers’ Compensation oversees death benefit claims. You should notify the employer of the worker’s death as soon as possible. If the employer’s insurance provider denies your claim, notify the division in writing. You must file the claim with the division within three years of the accident or within two years of the date you last received compensation, whichever is later. Talk to a Kansas workers’ compensation lawyer about how to file a claim and how to appeal an unfavorable decision.