South Carolina Workers' Comp Death Benefits: Eligibility & Amounts

Surviving family members can collect benefits through workers’ comp when an injured worker passes away in South Carolina.

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.)

Who Is Eligible for Death Benefits in South Carolina?

In South Carolina, the following family members are conclusively presumed to be total dependents:

  • a spouse
  • a child under 18
  • a child under 23 who is a full-time student at an accredited school, and
  • a child of any age who is incapable of self-support due to a disability.

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.

How Much Are Death Benefits in South Carolina?

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:

  • Whole dependents. If there are whole dependents, they share the weekly benefit. However, if there is a spouse and two or more children, the spouse will receive at least 50%, and the children will share the remaining 50%.
  • Partial dependents. If there are no whole dependents, partial dependents will receive benefits in proportion to how much they relied on the worker’s earnings. If any of the benefit is left over, it will go to the worker’s nondependent children, or if there are none, to the worker’s nondependent parents.
  • Nondependent children. If there are no whole or partial dependents, the worker’s nondependent children will receive the benefit.
  • Nondependent parents. If there are no dependents or nondependent children, the worker’s nondependent parents receive the benefit.

How Long Are Death Benefits Paid?

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.

How Much Are Funeral & Burial Benefits?

Workers' comp also pays up to $12,000 for funeral and burial expenses.

What Are the Time Limits for a Death Benefits Claim?

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.)

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