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Workers' Compensation and Death Benefits for Survivors

Crumpled red-colored paper along with stacks of coins, with the words etched in white, "Death Benefit".

Every workplace accident has the potential for disaster to strike. No one knows this better, unfortunately than the loved ones of an employee who has been killed on the job. It is a tragic situation for the family, who is left to pick up the pieces and move forward. Survivor benefits may help them do so.

Who can receive death benefits?

New Jersey’s workers’ compensation laws ensure that the family of an employee, who suffered the ultimate consequence of a workplace accident, will not go without. Those family members who were considered dependents at the time of death are entitled to receive benefits. If the decedent had a spouse or children, and they were living with the decedent, they are presumed to be dependents and eligible for benefits. If the spouse or children were not living with the decedent at the time of death, they may still be able to receive benefits but they will first have to prove they were actually dependent.

How long can benefits last?

A surviving spouse can receive workers’ compensation death benefits for the rest of their life, or until they remarry. A child is considered to be a dependent until they reach the age of 18 and can receive benefits to that point. Or, if they are a full-time student, benefits can continue until age 23. If the child is disabled, death benefits can continue beyond even that age.

Every year, the Commissioner of Labor sets a maximum amount of benefits that can be awarded. Death benefits cannot exceed that amount. The actual benefit received is equal to 70% of the weekly pay rate of the deceased employee, so long as it is below the annual threshold.