Frequently Asked Questions About Death Benefit Claims

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Losing a family member to an accident at work can be devastating, both emotionally and financially. North Carolina provides death benefits to the families of some employees who die because of a work injury, but there are specific requirements that must be met to ensure you will receive the benefits to which you are entitled. The workers’ compensation death benefit claim process is different and separate from the Social Security death benefit process.

Thomas F. Ramer, the co-founder of Ganly & Ramer, P.L.L.C., has been representing the families of workers’ compensation injury victims for more than 35 years. He has served on the North Carolina Bar Association Workers’ Compensation council and presented seminars on workers’ compensation topics sponsored by the North Carolina Bar Association, the North Carolina Industrial Commission and many other entities.

Because the death benefit process can be so complex, Mr. Ramer drafted answers to some of the most common questions about it handled through our firm.

Death Benefit Claim FAQ

Who can receive death benefits?

Family members who are wholly dependent on the deceased worker, typically including the surviving spouse and minor children under 18 years old, receive top priority in terms of receiving death benefits. Next in line are those partially dependent on the worker for support – which can include adult children of any age, or the worker’s parents. Finally, if no one was wholly or partially dependent on the deceased for support, the benefits are distributed in a lump sum to the worker’s next of kin, as identified by a will or the state’s probate process.

Do death benefits include funeral costs?

Yes, burial costs are covered up to a total of $10,000.

What does North Carolina workers’ compensation pay for a loved one’s death?

Death benefits are paid weekly. The amount is two-thirds of the deceased worker’s average weekly wage.

Is there a cap on workers’ compensation for death benefits?

There are two types of limits related to death benefits granted through workers’ compensation — amount of benefit and length of benefit payment. For workers who owned more than $76,000 per year, the cap on death benefits is $992 per week. Recipients of the death benefit are covered for 500 weeks, with the following exceptions:

  • Minor children, regardless of age, receive the benefit until they reach 18.
  • Dependent spouses who are unable to support themselves due to a mental or physical disability receive death benefits for life unless they remarry.

Successfully filing for death benefits through workers’ compensation requires meeting strict deadlines and demonstrating certain conditions were present related to your loved one’s work-related death. A lawyer with broad experience in workers’ compensation can help you through the filing process and represent you in any appeals or litigation needed to secure the benefits.

Trust Your Claim To North Carolina’s Accident And Injury Leader

Ganly & Ramer, P.L.L.C., has litigated more workers’ compensation claims through the hearings and appeals process than any other Asheville law firm over the past 35 years*. Call us at 828-844-5274 in Asheville to set up a free appointment to discuss the details of your death benefit claim, or email our firm.

*Based on decisions published by the North Carolina Industrial Commission


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