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