Vermont Workers' Comp Death Benefits: Eligibility & Amounts

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

When an employee in Vermont dies from an illness or injury that is related to work, the employee’s surviving spouse and dependent children may be eligible for death benefits under the state’s workers’ compensation laws. If the worker has no spouse or children, other family members who were dependent on the worker’s salary may qualify for benefits. (To learn more about benefits available to injured workers, see our article on Vermont workers’ comp benefits.)

Are You Eligible for Death Benefits in Vermont?

The following family members are considered to be dependents who are entitled to death benefits:

  • a spouse
  • a child under the age of 18
  • a child of any age who is unmarried and incapable of supporting himself or herself
  • a child 18 or older who is enrolled in an approved vocational or educational institution and was totally or partially dependent on the deceased worker’s earnings, or
  • a child of any age who has a mental or physical disability and was totally or partially dependent on the deceased worker’s earnings.

If the deceased worker has no spouse or dependent children, other family members—including parents, grandparents, or siblings and grandchildren—may qualify for benefits if they were dependent on the worker’s earnings. A grandchild or sibling must be under 18, enrolled in an approved vocational or education institution, incapable of self-support, or mentally or physically disabled.

How Much Are Death Benefits in Vermont?

Eligible survivors are entitled to weekly death benefits. These benefits are based on the deceased worker’s average weekly wage. However, dependents may not receive more than $1,281, or less than $427, per week. These amounts are adjusted at the beginning of July in every year. (To find the current amounts, select "Minimum and Maximum Compensation Rates" from the Vermont Department of Labor’s worker’s compensation page.)

Family members receive a percentage of the deceased worker’s weekly wages in the following order of priority:

  • Surviving spouse only. If there are no children, the surviving spouse receives two-thirds of the deceased worker’s average weekly wages. Benefits continue until the spouse remarries, becomes eligible for Social Security benefits, or dies, whichever happens first. Unless benefits continue until death, the spouse may not receive less than 330 times the weekly benefit amount.
  • Spouse and children. If there is one child, the surviving spouse receives 71 2/3% for the benefit of the spouse and child. If there are two or more children, the surviving spouse receives 76 2/3% for the benefit of the spouse and children.
  • Children but no spouse. If there is no surviving spouse and one child, the child will receive 71 2/3% of the worker’s average weekly wage. If there are two or more children, they share 76 2/3% of the worker’s average weekly wage. Children continue receiving benefits for as long as they remain dependent. (See “Are You Eligible for Death Benefits in Vermont?” above.)
  • No spouse or children. If there is no spouse or child, the worker’s dependent parents share 20% of the worker’s average weekly wage if they are partially dependent. If they are totally dependent, they share 30%. If there are no dependent parents, the worker’s dependent grandparents will receive the same amounts. Benefits are paid for no more than 264 weeks.
  • No dependent parents or grandparents. In this case, dependent grandchildren and siblings share between 15% and 25%, depending on how many there are. Benefits are paid for no more than 264 weeks.

Funeral Benefits

Under Vermont law, workers’ comp must pay for actual burial and funeral expenses, up to a maximum of $10,000, and actual costs to transport the worker to another state for the funeral, up to $5,000. This money is payable to the family members who are eligible for death benefits. If there are no such family members, the employer must pay funeral expenses to the deceased employee’s personal representative.

Time Limits for Filing a Claim

To qualify for death benefits, you must file a claim within six months of the deceased worker’s death. The deceased worker’s employer or workers’ compensation insurance carrier should be able to provide the necessary forms and information for filing a claim.

If you’re having trouble getting the death benefits you are entitled to, a workers’ comp lawyer can help. See our article on how workers’ comp lawyers charge in Vermont to learn more.

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