This is an advertisement.
+1-(502) 937-5287

Single Blog Title

This is a single blog caption
children and your spouse can rely on the death and survivorship benefits from workers' comp

Death and Survivorship Benefits from Workers’ Comp

Episode 27: Louisville workers’ compensation attorney Scott Scheynost discusses death and survivorship benefits from workers’ compensation, as a result of a workplace fatality.  These may also available if someone passes away, down the road, due to the injuries they sustained on the job.  Most people think about life insurance policies without considering that the estate and family may also receive death and survivorship benefits. 

Scott admits these situations are heart-breaking.  He’s handled numerous workplace fatality claims during the past 30 years.  Interestingly, these benefits may be provided even after a workers’ compensation claim has been resolved.  In other words, the death did not occur immediately or only days after the employee was hurt at work. Death and survivorship benefits from workers’ comp can’t replace your loved one, but knowing that some of the expenses will be covered as the family begins to move forward can be important.

Scott Scheynost discusses death and survivorship benefits from workers' comp

Lump Sum Benefit

There are 2 components of the benefits.  First, there’s a lump sum death benefit paid to the decedent’s estate.  This is to help cover funeral expenses and other costs.  The amount of the one-time benefit is currently about $105,000.  This amount tends to increase each year. 

Scott has a significant Wills and Probate practice, in addition to his workers’ comp focus.  He actually has a separate website:  You can listen to his Louisville Probate Law podcast, as well.

What Is an Estate?

Scott explains some basic probate-related terms in Episode 1 of his probate podcasts:

For probate purposes, the estate is the entity formed to take over decedent’s interests after they pass away.  This includes his/her assets, debts and other liabilities.  Any available funds, and those resulting from any assets that are sold, are placed in a separate account to be managed by the executor of the estate.  Under Kentucky probate law, funeral expenses and other debts/expenses will be paid out of the estate’s funds.  The remaining funds and assets will then be distributed according to the Will or to the Kentucky laws of distribution.

Click here to learn about how to start a probate claim in Jefferson County Kentucky.  Scott points out that the surviving spouse doesn’t necessarily get everything, which sometimes surprises people.  It’s another reason to listen to Scott’s Louisville Probate Law podcast.

The lump sum death benefit from workers’ comp will be added to the estate’s funds and can help to pay off debts, which will ease the burden of the surviving family.  While $105,000 sounds like a lot of money, it never goes as far as people think it will.  Still, it’s a significant Kentucky workers’ compensation benefit.

Survivorship Benefits

The second benefit component is referred to as survivorship benefit, which is paid to the spouse and dependents.  Dependents can include children, but also others for whom the decedent may have had responsibility.  For instance, elderly parents, disabled siblings, etc. 

Roughly speaking, the surviving spouse will receive about 50% of the weekly survivorship benefits from workers’ comp.  Scott notes that the portion can reduced if the spouse remarries.  Assuming the surviving spouse doesn’t remarry, she/he will usually continue to receive the survivorship benefits until sometime in their late 60s or early 70s. 

The remaining 50% (again in general terms) of the weekly survivorship benefits will be divided among the dependents.  Again, dependents may not be limited to dependent children.  It’s helpful to think about the IRS’ definition dependents.  This could include parents, disabled siblings or possibly a disabled, adult child.

There are exceptions, but the above provides a good explanation.  Kentucky probate law also impacts some of the related issues. 

Normally, the dependent would receive survivorship benefits until he/she reaches the age of majority (i.e. 18 years old).  If the dependent is attending college, the term can extend to he/she is 22 years old.  Disabled dependents may be able to continue receiving workers’ comp survivorship benefits for the rest of their lives. 

Did the Decedent Already Settle the Workers’ Compensation Claim?

If the injured person already settled his/her workers’ comp claim, and later died, there are other considerations that come into play.

At the conclusion of a workers’ compensation claim, the injured party will sign a settlement agreement.  There may be a clause included in that agreement which says you’re waiving your rights to certain benefits.  This is usually agreed to, during the negotiations, as a way of getting more money upfront in the settlement. 

One of the clauses might specifically give up survivorship benefits.  This would most likely involve an injury that didn’t result in a direct death of the injured employee. 

It’s extremely important that you have an attorney review your settlement agreement to see which clauses may apply to the death and survivorship benefits provided by workers’ compensation.  As Scott has stated during this episode, this is a very complicated area of the law.

To make matters worse, workers’ comp law and probate law have some important differences when it comes to this particular situation involving death and survivorship benefits.

A guardian may need to be appointed to oversee the rights of the minor children and some of lump sum benefits may need to be placed into a locked account for the minors.  However, due to a loophole, any weekly survivorship payments might get sent to the minor.  It’s an odd situation, because two separate areas of law are not coordinated.

In closing, a workplace fatality is a tragic situation. Fortunately, the death and survivorship benefits from workers’ comp can help to ease the burden. This isn’t a topic we like to think about, but they can and do happen. You can help to protect your family by making sure you’ve worked with an experienced attorney to get important documents in place, before the unthinkable happens.

Still Haven’t Drafted Your Will?

Scott Scheynost provides a Simple Will Package that includes a Will, Power of Attorney and

Living Will Directive.  No one plans for a workplace accident, or worse yet, a fatality.  These documents can protect your spouse and family even if it’s not work-related. 

The Power of Attorney (POA) document can be extremely helpful if you’re injured, but unable to communicate or make decisions for yourself.  An example would be if you suffered a significant injury at work, your designated POA could help to get the workers’ compensation claim started for you. 

The Living Will Directive allows you to designate someone to make healthcare decisions for you, if you are incapacitated.  This document is also referred to as a Healthcare Directive. 

Scott Scheynost Handles Workers’ Comp Cases Throughout Kentucky

Scott can handle workers’ compensation claims across the state of Kentucky.  In some cases, you may not reside in Kentucky, but maybe your job has a connection to Kentucky.  There are certain circumstances in which Scott may be able to represent you with your workers’ comp claim.

It’s important to work with an experienced Louisville workers’ comp attorney to protect your rights and the benefits you deserve.

It Cost You Nothing to Speak with Scott

Contact Scott Scheynost at (502) 937-5287.  This podcast is meant to provide information and is not legal advice.  Scott’s principal office is located at 7619 Dixie Highway, Louisville, KY 40258.  Co-host Jim Ray is a non-attorney spokesperson.  This is an advertisement.