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How do workers’ compensation death benefits work in Massachusetts?

On Behalf of | Jun 21, 2023 | Workers' Compensation

As a type of insurance, workers’ compensation helps employers pay for the benefits of their employees in the event the workers get injured or contract an illness due to their work. But there’s more to workers’ compensation than just paying for medical benefits.

Employers can also use workers’ compensation to pay for death benefits, which can trigger in the event of the employee’s death due to a work-related accident. While a morbid topic, it’s best to understand what benefits your loved ones receive in the event of your work-related death.

How much compensation can you expect from death benefits?

In Massachusetts, death benefits include the employee’s lost wages, handed out through weekly payments. These payments equal 66% of the deceased worker’s average weekly pay. In addition to this, beneficiaries may also receive coverage for funeral costs.

Eligible beneficiaries for death benefits

The following are eligible to receive benefits should you die from a work-related accident:

  • Your children under 18, under 24 and are full-time students, or an adult child under your guardianship with special needs.
  • Your spouse who has been living with you at the time of your death.
  • Other relatives dependent on you at the time of your death.

But even if you have loved ones that can receive death benefits, they might not automatically receive payment. Their claims can be denied, like any other workers’ compensation claim.

Death benefit claim denials

Insurers can turn down claims for death benefits if they believe the claimants aren’t eligible dependents. While minor children and disabled adult children often get the green light for benefits, it can be more challenging for surviving spouses. Some insurers might argue that a spouse with a job can support themselves and thus can’t be dependents.

In some cases, insurers might also maintain that your death was due to a preexisting medical condition or was caused by a noncompensable accident outside of work, so workers’ compensation doesn’t trigger.

Death benefit cases are complicated, and the last thing your relatives and loved ones need after you pass away is to deal with bureaucratic processes that prevent them from receiving benefits. Consider talking to your family and discussing the possibility of working with an experienced attorney who can help guide them throughout the claims process.