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Death benefits provided by Illinois workers' compensation laws

Illinois residents who have lost family members due to workplace injury or illness often face a number of emotional and financial difficulties. The situation can worsen if the deceased worker was the sole breadwinner for the family. To address these difficulties, the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission provides certain benefits to the survivors of deceased workers.

According to existing laws, death benefits are provided to a deceased worker's spouse and children who are under 18-years-old. If the deceased worker does not have a spouse or children, the benefits are provided to totally dependent parents of that worker. If the deceased worker does not have dependent parents, the benefits are afforded to any person who was at least 50 percent dependent on that worker for support at the time of death.

The first form of death benefits per workers' compensation laws is funeral benefits. According to existing law, survivors of workers who died before February 1, 2006 are entitled to $4,200 toward funeral expenses. However, for survivors of workers who died after that date, the sum received is almost double that amount.

Other death benefits for survivors pertaining to workers' compensation are calculated per the guidelines of the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission. According to current rules, survivors are entitled to two-thirds of the employee's average weekly gross wages earned in the 12 months preceding death. It is important to note here that the benefits in this case have no maximum and minimum limits. These benefits are also subject to cost-of-living adjustments per the commission's rules.

Another important point to remember is that survivor benefits are affected by re-marriage. For example, if a survivor has a child under the 18 at the time of remarriage, benefits continue. However, if the survivor does not have eligible children, the surviving spouse receives a one-time lump sum payment, which is equal to two years of workers' compensation benefits per the calculations as mentioned earlier in this post. The lump sum payment ends all rights to benefits of the re-married surviving spouse.

Source: IWCC.IL.gov, "Handbook on Workers' Compensation and Occupational Diseases," Accessed on Mar. 27, 2015

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