When a worker passes away from a work-related injury or illness in South Carolina, his or her surviving dependents are eligible to receive benefits. Called “death benefits” or “dependency benefits,” these sums are available to the worker’s spouse, children, or other family members who relied on the worker for financial support. (To learn about compensation for injured workers, see our article on South Carolina workers’ comp benefits.)
In South Carolina, the following family members are conclusively presumed to be total dependents:
Other people can also qualify as total or partial dependents, but only if they actually depended on the worker for financial support at least three months prior to the work accident.
The death must happen within two years of the work-related incident, or if the worker has a continuing total disability, within six years of the work-related incident.
Death benefits are 66 2/3% of the worker’s average weekly wages, up to a maximum amount set by law each year. For 2018, the maximum weekly death benefit is $838.21. (For current rates, visit the website of the South Carolina Workers' Compensation Commission.) This is the maximum amount available to all dependents combined.
Death benefits are paid in the following order of priority:
Death benefits are paid for a maximum of 500 weeks from the date of the injury. Benefits for children end when they reach 18, or if they are enrolled in school full time, when they reach 23. However, children who are physically or mentally incapable of self-support will continue to receive benefits for the full 500 weeks.
Workers' comp also pays up to $12,000 for funeral and burial expenses.
Dependents must file a claim for death benefits within two years of the date of the worker’s death. You must also notify the employer of the employee’s death within 90 days. The employer should provide you with any paperwork that you need to fill out. If not, you can get help from the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission.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 a South Carolina workers’ comp lawyer costs.)