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Illinois workers’ compensation and death benefits

Posted On March 27, 2015

Losing a family member in an accident on the job is a life-changing tragedy. Illinois law provides benefits to help the survivors of accident victims. A Chicago workers’ compensation attorney is aware that these death benefits can help loved ones rebuild their lives after a fatality in the workplace.

An introduction to Illinois survivors’ benefits

Survivors’ benefits are paid to members of a worker’s family after death from trauma, violence or illness on the job. These payments often begin with a substantial sum to cover funeral expenses. They continue during the following years as the family adjusts to living without its deceased breadwinner.

Who is entitled to death benefits?

Illinois law provides death benefits for all of the following categories of survivors:

  • Primary beneficiaries of a deceased worker, defined by law as the spouse of the worker and any dependent children under 18 years old.
  • The deceased worker’s parents, if the parents are financially dependent or in need of medical care or support.
  • Additional relatives such as grandchildren, cousins, nieces or nephews who are at least partially dependent on the deceased worker’s household income.

These dependent survivors are listed in order of priority. Primary beneficiaries are considered first, followed by other family members.

Calculating death benefits

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission calculates death benefits according to an official algorithm that is periodically revised. Current benefits include a payment of $8,000 for funeral costs and burial costs. Continuing benefits are calculated as two-thirds of the deceased employee’s average weekly wage during the 12 months preceding the fatal accident. These continuing benefits are separate from the funeral costs, which are paid as a one-time lump sum, as a Chicago workers’ compensation attorney knows.

How long do survivors’ benefits last?

Survivors’ benefits are intended to support family members in the long run. These benefits are paid weekly as long as the surviving spouse remains unmarried or while all surviving children are still under the age of 18. Remarriage may cause benefits to cease after the payment of a final lump sum. Payments may also increase to match ongoing changes in the cost of living.

Fatalities on the job happen far too often

Deaths on the job are tragically common. According to figures compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average of more than 170 employees are killed on the job every year in the state of Illinois. People who have lost a family member in a workplace accident have options. Bereaved spouses and children should consider speaking with a Chicago workers’ compensation attorney about the details of their case.

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