The death of an employee on the job is tragic and it can have a huge impact on the victim’s family. The Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act provides survivorship benefits to the statutory dependents of the deceased employee that can continue for many years. In addition to the weekly worker compensation check, the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act also provides a limited burial payment as well as compensation to cover the costs of any probate filings, including legal fees. The filings can be quite expensive, especially if minor children are involved.
A surviving spouse is entitled to receive 2/3 of his or her spouse’s average weekly wage for a period of 250 weeks after the victim’s death, provided that the surviving spouse does not remarry. These benefits are payable only if the spouse was living with the deceased employee at the time of his or her death. The law does recognize that if there is reasonable cause for the spouses to be apart, the benefit is still payable. Benefits can be extended indefinitely if the surviving spouse is not fully self-sufficient when the 250 weeks lapse.
The dependent children of a deceased employee are entitled to share in the payments made as a result of the death of a parent. The total weekly benefit is distributed to both the eligible surviving spouse and the deceased’s children in a formula defined in the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act. The law does not require the children to be living with the deceased parent when he or she dies in order to receive compensation. The children, however, must be dependent upon the deceased for their support. Each dependent child’s benefits cease when they become emancipated or no longer meet the statutory definition of a dependent child. The total amount of the weekly check remains the same regardless of the number of dependents, and as children are emancipated, the amount paid to the remaining dependents increases.
The Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act, in certain instances, also allows payments of survivorship benefits to parents of the deceased worker providing the parents are dependent upon the deceased employee for their support.
While there is absolutely nothing that will replace the loss of a loved one, the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act does provide some financial assistance. In addition, the family of the deceased employee may also be entitled to Social Security benefits based upon the deceased employee’s earning records. This option should also be explored by the victim’s family with the help of an attorney.
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