If an employee dies because of a work-related injury in Missouri, certain family members are eligible to receive death benefits through workers’ comp. Death benefits include weekly payments, as well as burial costs. (For more information on other benefits, see our article on workers’ compensation benefits in Missouri.)
Death benefits are available when a worker passes away due to a work-related injury or illness. Any beneficiary must have been dependent on the worker for financial support and must have been living with the worker or legally entitled to the worker’s support. Eligible dependents include:
Death benefits are based on the worker’s average weekly wage prior to the injury. The worker’s dependents share 66 ⅔% of the worker’s average weekly wage, subject to the minimum and maximum benefit rates in effect on the date of injury. As of July 1, 2017, the minimum weekly benefit is $40 and the maximum benefit is $923.01. (For current rates, visit the website of the Missouri Department of Labor & Industrial Relations.)
If the worker had only one dependent, that dependent would receive the full benefit. If the worker had more than one dependent, the Missouri Division of Workers’ Compensation will determine how to apportion the benefit among the dependents based on the circumstances. If all of the dependents were completely reliant on the worker for financial support, they would all receive an equal share.
Death benefit payments to a dependent spouse will continue until that spouse dies or remarries. If the spouse remarries, he or she will receive a final lump sum of two years of benefits.
Payments to a child will stop when that child turns 18. However, payments will continue until the child turns 22 if the child is enrolled as a full-time student at an accredited educational institution or is on active duty with the Armed Forces of the United States. A child who remains physically or mentally incapable of earning will continue to receive benefits regardless of age.
The worker's dependent family members, or the estate of the deceased worker, can receive up to $5,000 for burial expenses. If the worker did not have any dependents at the time of his or her death, burial costs are the only benefits paid.
If you’re having trouble getting the benefits you are entitled to, you should consult with a lawyer. To find out how much that might cost, see our article on hiring a Missouri workers’ comp lawyer.