Texas Workers' Comp Death Benefits: Eligibility & Amounts

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

When a worker passes away from a work-related injury or illness, his or her surviving dependents are eligible to receive benefits through workers’ comp. Called “death benefits,” these sums are available to the worker’s spouse, children, grandchildren, or other dependents who relied on the worker for financial support.

This article describes benefits available if your loved one’s employer has workers’ compensation insurance. However, workers’ comp insurance is optional in Texas. If the employer doesn’t have workers’ comp insurance, you might be able to file a lawsuit to recover compensation. To learn more, see our article on Texas workers’ compensation.

Who is Eligible for Death Benefits in Texas?

The following family members are eligible for death benefits through workers’ comp:

  • the worker’s spouse, unless the spouse abandoned the worker more than a year prior to the worker’s death without good cause
  • a child under 18
  • a child under 25 who is a full-time student at an accredited educational institution
  • a child of any age who was a dependent of the worker at the time of the worker’s death, or
  • a grandchild who was at least 20% dependent on the worker, as long as the grandchild’s parent is not eligible for death benefits.

If the worker did not leave a spouse, child, or grandchild behind, other family members can receive death benefits if they relied on the worker totally or partially for support, including parents, stepparents, siblings, and grandparents.

How Much Are Death Benefits in Texas?

Death benefits are 75% of the worker’s average weekly wage, up to a maximum amount set by law each year. As of October 2017, the maximum weekly death benefit is $913. (For the current maximum, visit the Texas Department of Insurance’s maximum and minimum weekly benefit page.) This is the amount that is available to all of the worker’s family members, combined.

Benefits are paid in the following order of priority:

  • Spouse only. If there is a spouse, but no child or grandchild, the spouse will receive the full benefit. The spouse receives benefits until death or remarriage. Upon remarriage, the spouse receives a lump sum of two years’ worth of benefits.
  • Spouse and child/grandchild. If there is a spouse and at least one child or grandchild, half of the benefit will go to the spouse and the other half will be shared by the children and grandchildren.
  • Child/grandchild but no spouse. The children and grandchildren share the full benefit equally. In most cases, benefits will continue until the child or grandchild reaches the age limits described above or for a maximum of 364 weeks. However, a child who is dependent because of a disability will receive benefits for as long as the disability continues.
  • No spouse, child, or grandchild. In that case, the benefit will be shared equally among any parents, stepparents, siblings, or grandparents who depended on the worker for financial support. Benefits last for a maximum of 364 weeks.
  • No dependents. If there are no dependent family members at all, the worker’s nondependent parents will receive the benefit. However, benefits will last only for 104 weeks.

Workers' comp also pays the actual costs of reasonable burial expenses, up to $10,000, as well as transportation costs if the worker died away from the place of employment.

What Are the Time Limits for a Death Benefits Claim?

Dependents must file a claim for death benefits with the Texas Department of Insurance within one year of the employee’s death.

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 Texas workers’ comp lawyer costs.)

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