Nebraska Workers' Comp Death Benefits: Eligibility & Amounts

Learn who is eligible for workers' compensation death benefits in Nebraska.

If an employee dies because of a work-related injury in Nebraska, certain family members might be eligible for death benefits through workers’ compensation. Death benefits include weekly payments to help replace the deceased worker’s income, as well as funeral and burial costs. (For more information on other types of workers’ compensation benefits, see our article on workers compensation benefits in Nebraska).

Which Family Members Are Eligible for Death Benefits in Nebraska?

Death benefits are paid to eligible dependents when a worker passes away due to a work-related injury or illness. In Nebraska, a dependent is someone who relied on the worker for more than 50% of his or her financial support while the worker was alive. Certain family members are automatically considered dependents, including:

  • a spouse, unless the spouse was living apart from the worker at the time of the injury and not actually dependent upon the worker
  • a child under the age of 19
  • a child of any age who is physically or mentally unable to support himself or herself, or
  • a child who is at least 19 but younger than 25 and who is enrolled as a full-time student at an accredited educational institution.

If the worker did not have a spouse or dependent children, other family members who were dependent on the worker might be eligible for benefits, including:

  • a sibling who is under the age of 19
  • a sibling of any age who is physically or mentally unable to support himself or herself or who actually received more than 50% of his or her financial support from the worker, or
  • a parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, or grandchild who was dependent on the worker for more than 50% of his or her financial support. A grandchild must be under the age of 19 or unable to support himself or herself because of a physical or mental disability.

One exception is that a married child, grandchild, or sibling is ineligible for benefits regardless of age, unless that child was receiving pretty much all of his or her financial support from the worker.

How Much Are Death Benefits in Nebraska?

Death benefits are based on the worker’s average weekly wage prior to the injury. The total amount of weekly death benefits paid to all family members cannot be more than 75% of the deceased worker’s average weekly wage, subject to the minimum and maximum benefit rates. The maximum weekly benefit is updated each year. For 2018, the maximum weekly benefit is $831.00. (For a full list of weekly maximums based on the date of accident, see the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Court website.)

Benefits are paid in the following amounts and order of priority:

  • If there is a spouse and no dependent children. The surviving spouse receives 66 ⅔% of the worker's average weekly wages per week.
  • If there is no spouse, but one or more dependent children. If there is one child, the child receives 66 ⅔% of the average weekly wage. If there are two or more dependent children, the children equally share 75% of the average weekly wage.
  • If there is a spouse and one or more dependent children. If all of the children are living with the surviving spouse, the spouse receives 60% and the children receive 15%. If one or more of the children are not living with the spouse, the spouse receives 55% and the children share 20%.
  • If there is no spouse or dependent children. In that case, each dependent parent would receive 25% of the worker’s average weekly wages. If there is a spouse or child, but their benefits do no exceed 75% of the worker's average weekly wage, parents can receive a reduced share.
  • If there is no spouse, children, or dependent parents. In that case, a dependent sibling, grandparent, or grandchild will receive 25% of the worker’s average weekly wages. They would receive a reduced share if there are other dependents mentioned above but their benefits do not add up to 75% of the worker’s average weekly wage.

When Death Benefits End

Death benefits end in different situations. If a surviving spouse gets remarried, his or her weekly benefits stop. However, the spouse can receive one final payment of two years of benefits in a lump sum.

When a child, sibling, or grandchild turns 19 years old (or 25 years old if a full-time student) that family member’s benefits stop. However, they will continue to receive benefits regardless of age if they are physically or mentally unable to self-support. Benefits stop for all dependents when they get married.

Benefits also stop if any family member stops being actually dependent. This happens when family members earn enough money to provide 50% or more of their financial support. Any family member who is receiving benefits because of actual dependency must prove their dependency every three years.

A dependent family member’s death benefits and income from other sources, combined, can never be higher than the actual amount of support that person received from the worker before he or she died. The amount of death benefits will be reduced if this happens.

Benefits for Burial Costs

The workers’ dependent family members or the estate of the deceased worker can receive up to $10,000 for burial expenses.

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