Louisiana Workers' Comp Death Benefits: Eligibility & Amounts

In Louisiana, death benefits are available to certain family members and household members of the deceased worker.

When an employee in Louisiana dies from a work-related illness or injury, the employee’s spouse, children, and other dependents may be eligible for death benefits through workers’ compensation. These weekly benefits are paid to surviving family members who depended on the worker for financial support. Workers’ comp also pays for burial expenses. (To learn more about benefits available to injured workers, see our article on collecting workers’ comp in Louisiana.)

Are You Eligible for Death Benefits in Louisiana?

The worker’s spouse and children are presumed to be completely dependent on the worker and entitled to benefits, if they fall under any of the following categories:

  • a surviving spouse who was actually living with the worker at the time of death
  • children who lived with the worker, or have a valid child support order against the worker, and are either under the age of 18 or physically or mentally incapacitated from earning, and
  • children who are under the age of 23 and attending school full time.

Other dependents may be eligible for benefits if they can prove they were wholly or partially dependent on the deceased worker’s earnings, including a spouse who was living apart from the worker. However, only those living in the deceased worker’s household or related to the deceased worker as a spouse, child, sibling, or lineal descendant or ascendant qualify. And, the Louisiana legislature has explicitly excluded unmarried live-in romantic partners and their children from receiving benefits, unless the children are also the worker’s children by blood or adoption.

Partial dependents—those who are only partly dependent on the worker's earnings—are given lower priority than complete dependents. Partial dependents are entitled to benefits only if there are no complete dependents or if the benefits paid to complete dependents are less than the maximum (see below).

Amount of Death Benefits Available in Louisiana

The amount of death benefits depends on how many beneficiaries there are and their relationship to the worker. The benefit is stated as a percentage of the deceased worker’s average weekly wage. However, in any case, the maximum benefit available to all beneficiaries, combined, is $653. (This amount is updated each year; for current figures, see the Louisiana Workforce Commission's list.)

  • Surviving spouse alone. If the worker leaves a surviving spouse and no children, the spouse receives 32.5%.
  • Surviving spouse and one child. If the worker leaves one dependent child and a surviving spouse, they receive 46.25%.
  • Surviving spouse and two or more children. If the worker leaves two or more dependent children and a surviving spouse, they receive 65%.
  • Surviving child or children only. If there is no surviving spouse, a single surviving child receives 32.5%, two surviving children receive 46.25%, and three or more children receive 65%.
  • No surviving spouse or children. If the deceased worker leaves a dependent parent, the parent receives 32.5%. If the worker leaves two dependent parents, they receive 65%.
  • No surviving spouse, children, or dependent parents. If the deceased worker leaves a dependent sibling, that sibling receives 32.5%. For each additional sibling, the group receives an additional 11%, up to a maximum of 65%. The same percentages apply to other complete dependents, if there are no surviving spouse, children, or parents.

Partial beneficiaries receive benefits based on how much the worker contributed to their support. As noted above, they receive benefits only if the worker has no wholly dependent beneficiaries or there is money left over (up to the 65%/$653 maximum) after the complete beneficiaries have received their benefits.

If the employee leaves no dependents, the employee’s adult children will receive $75,000, to be divided among them. If there are no dependents and no adult children, the employee’s parents will each receive $75,000.

When Do Death Benefits Terminate?

A surviving spouse is eligible to receive benefits until death or remarriage. In the case of remarriage, the spouse receives a lump-sum payment of two years’ worth of benefits.

Payments to children who are physically or mentally incapacitated continue as long as their incapacity. Other children receive benefits until they reach the age of 18 (or 23, if they are full-time students), they marry, or they die.

For all other dependents, benefits are paid as long as their dependency continues or until they die.

Funeral Benefits Available in Louisiana

Under Louisiana law, workers’ comp must pay the reasonable expenses of burial for the deceased employee, up to $8,500. If the cost of burial is less than $7,500, the worker’s dependents are entitled to the difference between the actual cost and $7,500.

Time Limits for Filing a Claim

Dependents seeking death benefits must first notify the employer of the employee’s death. The employer is required to notify the insurance carrier, which will start the benefits process. You must file any claim for death benefits within one year of the employee’s death. If you need help, you should consider talking to a workers’ comp attorney. Learn more about how workers’ comp attorneys charge in Louisiana.

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