David S. Jasmer
Setting the Standard in Personal Injury
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What survivors' benefits follow an Illinois worker’s death?

Immediate family members can receive benefits that cover losses associated with the death of a loved one due to a workplace injury. Benefits paid through The Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission cover burial and funeral expenses and provide survivors with a portion of financial losses caused by a wage earner's death.

The burial benefit varies, according to the date of injury rather than the date of death. That may be an important point, if the employee's death was not immediate. The benefit is $4,200 for fatal injuries prior to Feb. 1, 2006 and $8,000 for injuries on or after that date.

In addition to compensation for funeral costs, primary beneficiaries -- mostly spouses or minor children – also receive survivors' benefits. The benefits equal to two-thirds of the deceased worker's average weekly pay, based on earnings during the year prior to the injury. The amount is subject to limitations, according to workers' compensation rules.

The Commission reviews these limits every six months and makes appropriate changes. For example, the current minimum weekly benefits are $510.67, with a maximum of $1,361.79. The next adjustment will take effect on July 15, 2015. Death benefits also may include cost of living adjustments.

Recipients of Illinois workers' compensation death benefits are entitled to a total of $500,000 or 25 years of compensation, whichever amount is greater. Individuals eligible to receive benefits include surviving spouses, children younger than 18 and, in some cases, dependent parents or others who had at least partial dependence on the deceased's income.

Survivors' benefits continue when a spouse remarries, provided minor children remain primary beneficiaries. When there are no minor children, survivor's benefits for a remarried spouse end. The spouse is paid a final lump sum equivalent to two years' worth of benefits.

Attorneys, representing a family's interests following a worker's death, can assist by assessing the value of a workers' compensation claim.

Source: Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission, "Handbook on Workers' Compensation and Occupational Diseases" accessed Feb. 20, 2015

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