When a worker passes away from a work-related injury or illness, the worker’s surviving dependents are eligible to receive biweekly benefits. Called “death 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 Ohio workers’ comp benefits.)
A worker’s dependents—those who relied on the worker for financial support—are eligible to receive death benefits. The following family members are presumed to be whole dependents:
Other family members who were wholly or partially dependent on the worker for financial support might also qualify for benefits on a case-by-case basis, including parents, grandparents, grandchildren, and siblings.
Death benefits are 66 2/3% of the worker’s average weekly wages. However, this amount cannot be less than the statewide minimum or more than the statewide maximum for workers’ comp benefits. In 2018, the minimum is $466 per week and the maximum is $932 per week. (For current rates, see the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation’s compensation rate schedule.) This is the amount available to all dependents. An official at the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation will decide how to divide the benefit among the eligible dependents. However, dependent parents who lived with the worker will typically receive a minimum award of $3,000.
A spouse will receive death benefits until he or she dies or remarries. Upon remarriage, the spouse will receive a lump sum of two years’ worth of benefits. Children receive payments until they turn 18, or if they are enrolled in a full-time accredited educational program, until they turn 25. However, children who are mentally or physically incapacitated can receive benefits as long as the incapacity continues. For other family member, the Bureau decides how long benefits continue.
Workers' comp also pays up to $5,500 for burial expenses incurred by the deceased worker’s surviving family.
Dependents must file a claim for death benefits with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation within one year of the worker’s death. The Bureau has a form for this purpose called an Application for Death Benefits and/or Funeral Expenses, which can be found at the Bureau’s forms page.If you’re having trouble collecting workers’ comp death benefits, you should consult with a workers’ comp lawyer. To learn more, see our article on how much an Ohio workers’ comp lawyer costs.)