Maryland’s workers’ compensation system is designed to protect workers who are injured on the job. It provides benefits for individuals who are hurt at work. Injured workers can receive medical care and other benefits after a workplace injury.
In some cases, a worker may sustain injuries that result in death. Family members may be entitled to death benefits in a workers’ comp case. The amount of worker’s comp benefits a family member may be entitled to receive depends on several factors.
The Maryland workers’ comp attorneys at Pinder Plotkin will review your case free of charge so you can get the facts about workers’ comp death benefits.
Workers’ Comp Death Benefits As of October 1, 2011
The Maryland legislature changed the workers’ comp laws related to death benefits for workers who died after October 1, 2011. Death benefits for a worker’s dependents are now based on the average weekly wages of the worker and the worker’s contribution to the family’s income.
Workers Who Were The Only Source of Income for the Family
First, the worker’s average weekly wage is established. If the worker was the only person who earned money for the family, the worker’s dependents might receive two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wages. However, there is a maximum benefit that beneficiaries may receive. For 2018, the maximum weekly benefit per case is $1,094. Therefore, the benefit to all dependents cannot exceed $1,094 per week for 2018.
For example, if a worker earned an average of $600 each week, the family would be entitled to $400 per week (two-thirds of $600).
Workers Who Contributed a Portion of the Family’s Income
If the worker was not the sole wage earner for the family, the death benefit is reduced. To calculate the death benefit, you must calculate the percentage of the worker’s contributions to the household income. The death benefit is then multiplied by that percentage.
For example, if the worker contributed 80 percent of the household income, the dependents would receive 80 percent of the two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wage. In the example above, the worker earned $600. The benefit to the dependents would be $400 (two-thirds). If the worker contributed 80 percent of the household income, the total benefit to the family would be $320 (80 percent of $400).
Remember, this amount is the total amount that is payable to all dependents. The Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission can divide the total benefits between the worker’s eligible dependents, or it may direct the benefits to be paid to someone who must use the benefits as the commission directs.
How Long May Dependents Receive Death Benefits for a Workers’ Comp Claim in Maryland?
The calculation of the term of the death benefits depends on several factors. In most cases, death benefits are paid up to a maximum of 12 years (144 months). However, death benefits may end sooner for some dependents. For instance, if a surviving spouse remarries while receiving death benefits, the benefits end two years after the marriage. Benefits may also terminate upon the 70th birthday of the deceased worker if the dependents have been receiving death benefits for at least five years at that time.
In most cases, children of the deceased worker receive benefits until they are 18 years of age or 23 years of age if they are a full-time student in an accredited school. Benefits for a dependent who is unable to support himself or herself because of a disability that occurred before the worker’s death may receive extended benefits.
In addition, there is a maximum benefit limit for any dependent that is not a surviving spouse or child of the worker. The limit for 2018 is $73,690 for all dependents other than the spouse and children of the deceased. The amount is adjusted every year.
County or Municipal Corporation Employees
The new law may not apply to some county employees or municipal corporation employees. If your loved one worked for a county or municipal office, you want to consult a Maryland workers’ comp attorney about the death benefits you might be entitled to under the state’s workers’ comp laws.
Getting Help From a Maryland Workers’ Comp Attorney
There are time limits for filing a death benefit claim in Maryland. Claims for death benefits must be filed within 18 months after the person’s death. Because there could be issues with the claim, it is always best to file a death benefit claim as soon as possible. Filing a timely claim also means that you can receive benefits that you need in a timely manner.
A Maryland workers’ comp lawyer can help you file your claim for death benefits. The Pinder Plotkin team reviews the calculations of average weekly wages and contributions to household income to ensure that you are receiving the maximum death benefits allowed by law.
Contact Pinder Plotkin LLC by calling 410-525-5337 to schedule your free consultation with a Parkville workers’ compensation lawyer.