If your loved one died in a work-related accident, Pennsylvania law provides workers’ compensation death benefits for eligible dependents. These benefits can replace a portion of the decedent’s income to his or her surviving family members and help pay for medical, funeral and burial costs.
If you would like assistance with your death benefit claim, a skilled Harrisburg workers’ compensation attorney at Schmidt Kramer can help. We can review your claim to determine if you may be eligible for these benefits.
Who Is Eligible to Receive Death Benefits?
In Pennsylvania, there are only certain individuals who may be eligible to receive death benefits. The following individuals may be entitled to these benefits:
- The decedent’s spouse
- Minor children
- Children under the age of 18
- Children under the age of 23 who are enrolled in school full-time
- A disabled child of any age
- Parents of the decedent who were totally or partially dependent on him or her for financial support at the time of death
- Siblings under the age of 18 who are unable to support themselves due to a disability and either were fully or partially dependent on the worker for financial support at the time of death
How Much Are Death Benefits?
Death benefits are based on the deceased workers’ average weekly wages and the relationship between the recipient and the decedent. The amount is subject to a state maximum, which is $1,049 per week for injuries that occurred in 2019 or later. This amount is the total for all eligible dependents.
The number of eligible dependents also impacts the percentage of benefits they receive. The current distribution is as follows, based on the following surviving family members:
- Spouse but no children – The surviving spouse receives 51 percent of the worker’s average weekly wages.
- Spouse and children – If the surviving spouse is the parent or guardian of the decedent’s children, the spouse receives 60 percent of the worker’s average weekly wages or two-thirds (66.7 percent) of the worker’s weekly wages for two or more children.
- Spouse and children with different parents or guardians – If the deceased worker has a surviving spouse and children with a different person, the spouse and child split 60 percent when there is only one child. If there are more children, the spouse receives one-third of the decedent’s weekly wages and the children share the other one-third of the wages.
- Children but no spouse – If there is no spouse, the child’s parent or guardian receives 32 percent of the decedent’s weekly wages when there is one child, 42 percent if there are two children, 52 percent for three children, 62 percent for four children, 64 percent for five children and two-thirds (66.7 percent) for six or more children.
- Parents but no spouse or children – If the worker left no surviving spouse or children, 32 percent of the worker’s average weekly wage goes to the financially-dependent parent. If the parent was completely financially dependent on the worker, he or she will receive 52 percent.
- No spouse, children or parents – A financially dependent sibling will receive 22 percent of the worker’s average weekly wage. For more than one sibling, five percent is added, up to a maximum of 32 percent.
Under Pennsylvania law, funeral benefits of up to $3,000 must also be paid. This amount must be paid whether or not the decedent had dependents.
How Do I File a Claim for Death Benefits in Pennsylvania?
To file a death benefits claim in Pennsylvania, you will need to complete the Claim for Death Benefits form and provide all necessary information. This includes your contact information and details regarding the decedent, the cause of death and information regarding all the dependents.
If you are having trouble filing for the death benefits you are entitled to, a workers’ compensation attorney can assist you with this process.
Contact Our Attorneys at Schmidt Kramer to Learn More
Workers’ compensation benefits provide wage replacement income to injured workers. If the work accident results in the employee’s death, these benefits can provide ongoing financial support for the surviving family members. These claims can be complex and require an in-depth understanding of the workers’ compensation process.
The workers’ compensation attorneys at Schmidt Kramer are experienced with advancing these types of claims. We can help you with all aspects of your claim, including any appeals. We charge no upfront fees and offer a free consultation to discuss your case. Because we work on a contingency fee, you only pay us for our legal services if you recover compensation.
Talk to a member of our legal team by calling (717) 888-8888.