Today we continue our discussion of Workers’ Compensation benefits available to surviving dependents of Maryland workers who suffered work-related deaths. In Part 1, we discussed dependency.
Death benefits are available to surviving dependents — family or nonfamily — who relied completely or partially on the deceased employee’s wages for support. Death benefits are available in cases of occupational disease no matter how long the disease existed before the death, but when the death resulted from a work-related injury, the death must have been within seven years after the injury.
The amount of death benefit for eligible dependents (except for some who survive certain city or county employees) is determined according to detailed and sometimes complex Maryland statutes. With some specific exceptions, the basic benefit amounts are as follows:
- Total dependents generally receive weekly benefits equal to two-thirds of the deceased worker’s Average Weekly Wage, called the AWW, capped at the level of the State Average Weekly Wage.
- Total dependents receive benefits until a cap of $45,000 is reached, but for a totally dependent surviving spouse, payments continue if the total dependency continues.
- If a totally dependent surviving spouse remarries, death benefits cease even if the cap has not yet been reached. However, if that person remarries with no dependent children at that time, payments continue for two more years. (Rules for surviving spouses who have become partially self-supporting and remarry are different.)
- If a totally dependent minor child continues to be wholly dependent when the cap is reached, payments continue as long as the total dependence continues until the child turns 18. Exceptions exist for a disabled child, one who goes to college or another accredited program or for “other sufficient reason.”
- Partial dependents (if there are no total dependents) receive weekly benefits calculated the same way, but reduced proportionately to reflect the portion of the worker’s wages that contributed to the partial support, considering the contributing incomes of partly dependent people.
- Generally, payments to partial dependents continue as long as partial dependency continues with a cap of $75,000.
- The collective amount of death benefits payable to eligible dependents other than a dependent spouse or dependent child is limited to a maximum in 2017 of $70,861 (cap increases annually).
We will discuss benefit durations and funeral benefits in Part 3 of this post, coming soon.