Washington Workers' Comp Death Benefits: Eligibility & Amounts

Learn whether you are entitled to survivor benefits if a loved one has passed away from a work-related injury or illness.

When an employee in Washington dies from a work-related illness or injury, the employee’s surviving spouse and dependent children are 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. These benefits are called a survivor’s pension or survivor benefits in Washington. (To learn more about benefits available to injured workers, see our article on Washington workers' comp benefits.)

Are You Eligible for Survivor Benefits in Washington?

In Washington, the worker’s surviving spouse is automatically eligible for survivor benefits. So are the worker’s children, if they are:

  • under the age of 18
  • enrolled in school full time and under the age of 23, or
  • any age and dependent on the worker’s earnings due to a physical, mental, or sensory disability.

If the deceased worker has no surviving spouse or children, other family members—including parents, stepparents, grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, half-siblings, nieces, and nephews—might be eligible to receive benefits if they were dependent on the worker’s earnings.

How Much Are Survivor Benefits in Washington?

In Washington, eligible survivors are entitled to a one-time payment when their application for benefits is approved. This payment is made to the surviving spouse, the surviving children if there is no spouse, or the surviving dependent parents if there are no surviving spouse and children. The beneficiaries will receive a total payment of the average state monthly wage, currently $4,913. (This amount is current through June 30, 2018; the average state wage is updated every year on July 1.)

Eligible survivors are also entitled to a monthly survivor’s pension. These benefits are based on the deceased worker’s average wage, subject to a cap based on the average state wage for the year. Currently, the maximum monthly benefit amount is $5,895.70 (as of July 1, 2017). This is the total amount available to all survivors combined.

Family members receive the following percentages of the deceased worker’s weekly wages:

  • Surviving spouse only. If the deceased worker has a surviving spouse, the spouse receives 60% of the worker’s average wages. Benefits to a surviving spouse end at death or remarriage. A spouse who remarries has the option to receive a two-year lump-sum payment.
  • Surviving spouse who is the guardian of children. If the deceased worker has a surviving spouse and children who live with the surviving spouse, the spouse receives an additional 2% per child, up to a total maximum of 70%.
  • Surviving spouse and children with a different guardian. If the deceased worker has a surviving spouse and children who are in the legal custody of another person, total benefits are calculated as if the children were living with the surviving spouse. Then, 5% of the monthly benefits per child are paid to the person having legal custody, up to a maximum of 25%. The remainder goes to the surviving spouse.
  • At least one child and no spouse. If the deceased worker has no surviving spouse but has a surviving child, that child receives 35% of the deceased worker’s wages. If there are two children, they split 50% of the deceased worker’s wages. If there are three are more children, they share 65% of the deceased worker’s wages.
  • No spouse or children. If the deceased worker has no surviving spouse and no surviving children, other family members who were financially dependent on the worker’s earnings, in whole or in part, can receive survivor benefits. Each family member is entitled to 50% of the average monthly support that person received from the deceased worker in the year before the worker was injured. However, the total amount available to all such dependents, combined, can’t be more than 65% of the deceased worker’s average weekly wages.

How Much Are Funeral Benefits?

Under Washington law, worker’s comp must pay the costs of the deceased worker’s funeral, up to a maximum of twice the state’s average monthly wage. The state’s average wages are calculated every year at the end of June. Currently, the cap on payment of funeral costs is $9,826 (as of July 1, 2017).

Time Limits for Filing a Claim

To qualify for survivor benefits, you must file an application for benefits within one year of the deceased worker’s death. You will also have to provide documentation of your relationship to the worker, such as a marriage certificate or legal documents regarding child custody, as well as a death certificate.

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 Washington to learn more.

Talk to a Lawyer

Need professional help? Start here.

How it Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you
MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR CLAIM

Get the compensation you deserve.

We've helped 265 clients find attorneys today.

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you