Montana Workers' Comp Death Benefits: Eligibility & Amounts

When an injured worker passes away in Montana, surviving family members can collect benefits through workers’ comp.

When an employee passes away from a work-related injury or illness, the worker’s surviving dependents are eligible to receive benefits through workers’ comp in Montana. Called “death benefits” or “survivor 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 Montana workers’ comp benefits.)

Who Is Eligible for Death Benefits in Montana?

In Montana, death benefits are available to certain family members to replace part of the income they’ve lost from the deceased worker. The following family members have priority:

  • a spouse who was living with, or legally entitled to support from, the worker at the time of the injury
  • an unmarried child under 18
  • an unmarried child under 22 who is a full-time student or apprentice through an accredited program, or
  • a physically or mentally incapacitated child of any age who qualified as the worker’s dependent for tax purposes at the time of the injury.

If there is no qualifying spouse or child, other family members might be eligible, including parents and siblings who qualified as the worker’s dependents for tax purposes at the time of the injury.

How Much Are Death Benefits in Montana?

Death benefits are based on a percentage of the worker’s average weekly wage. The total benefits paid to all dependents cannot be more than 66 2/3% of the worker’s average weekly wage. The benefit also cannot be more than the state average weekly wage for the year. As of July 1, 2017, the maximum weekly benefit is $768.11. (For the current rates, visit the website of the Montana Department of Labor & Industry.)

Death benefits are paid in the following amounts and order of priority:

  • Spouse and no children. If there is a spouse but no children, the spouse receives 66 2/3% of the worker’s average weekly wage.
  • Children but no spouse. If there are children but no spouse, the children share 66 2/3% of the worker’s average weekly wage.
  • Spouse and children. If there is a spouse and children, the spouse receives 66 23/% for the benefit of the spouse and children.
  • Dependent parents. If the worker has no spouse or children, but leaves behind a parent who was dependent on the worker at the time of the injury, the parent will receive death benefits. The amount of the benefit depends on the extent to which the parent relied on the worker for support. However, it cannot be more than 66 2/3% of the worker’s average weekly wages. If there are two dependent parents, the benefit is divided between them equally.
  • Dependent siblings. If there is no spouse, child, or dependent parent, a sibling who is under 18 and who was dependent on the worker at the time of the injury will receive death benefits. The amount of the benefit depends on the extent to which the sibling relied on the worker for support. However, it cannot be more than 66 2/3% of the worker’s average weekly wages. If there are multiple siblings who qualify, they share the benefit equally.
  • No dependents. If the worker had no dependents, a lump sum of $3,000 is paid to the worker’s nondependent parents.

How Long Are Death Benefits Paid?

A spouse receives death benefits for a maximum of 500 weeks from the date of death, or upon remarriage, whichever happens earlier. Benefits for children continue until they turn 18, or if they are full-time students or apprentices, until they turn 22. However, children who are incapacitated can continue to receive benefits regardless of age.

How Much Are Burial Benefits?

Workers' comp also pays for reasonable burial costs up to $4,000.

What Are the Time Limits for a Death Claim?

Dependents must file a claim for death benefits within one year of the worker’s death. You can find the appropriate beneficiary claim form at forms page of the Montana Department of Labor & Industry (DLI). If you’re having trouble collecting workers’ comp death benefits, you should call the Claims Assistance Unit at the DLI or consult with a workers’ compensation lawyer. (To learn more, see our article on how much a Montana workers’ comp lawyer costs.)

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