The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act death benefits compensate your loved ones if the worst happens. If you have a loved one who has died and qualified as a worker under the LHWCA, you must file for benefits one year after the death. An experienced maritime lawyer can help you navigate the system and get compensation.
Widow and Widower Benefits
If you are married, your LHWCA benefits extend to your spouse even if you are killed on the job or an incident or exposure at work contributes to your death.
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These benefits, if awarded, will be paid to the widow or widower of a deceased worker forever or until remarriage. The amount a widow or widower receives is equivalent to one-half of the worker’s average weekly wage.
In determining the benefit amount, the LHWCA states that the average weekly wage of the deceased employee will be used but cannot be less than the national average weekly wage.
If the employee dies after retirement due to work incidents or exposure, the average weekly wage of the 52 weeks before retirement is used to calculate the compensation benefits.
Benefits for Children and Dependents
As a worker in the maritime industry and covered by the LHWCA, you can rest assured that your dependent children are entitled to benefits if you die on the job. If you are the dependent child of a deceased employee, your representative can file your claim for benefits on your behalf.
- If a widow or widower receives LHWCA death benefits, any dependent children are entitled to one-sixth of the deceased’s average weekly wage.
- If the widow or widower dies or remarries, any children will begin to receive compensation equal to one-half of the deceased worker’s average weekly wage.
- If there is more than one child, each gets an increase of one-sixth, but the total compensation cannot exceed two-thirds of the deceased’s average weekly wage.
- If there is no living spouse and no living children, LHWCA benefits can be dispersed to other dependents. These could be siblings or grandchildren, but to receive benefits, they must satisfy the definition of dependent. In other words, they must have depended financially on the employee at their death.
Death benefits through the LHWCA include coverage of funeral expenses up to $3,000. It is not very common, but in some rare cases, the LHWCA death benefits for funeral expenses may exceed the set limit of $3,000.
To receive this benefit, you or your lawyer must complete and file form LS-265, a certification of funeral expenses, to the OWCP.
The Duration of LHWCA Death Benefits
Benefits paid out to a spouse may be paid until their death or until they remarry.
- In the event of a remarriage, the OWCP pays out one final lump sum of two years’ worth of benefits.
- For dependent children, grandchildren, or siblings, the payments usually extend until their 18th birthday.
- These payments may continue until age 23 for any dependent attending college or another type of academic institution.
- A dependent with a mental or physical disability may also receive extended benefits.
Filing for death benefits when grieving the loss of a loved one isn’t easy. If you are faced with this situation, you can rely on the guidance of an experienced maritime lawyer to get you through the filing process. With a lawyer on your side, you can be sure you will get all of the benefits you and your children are entitled to.