Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits In Minnesota

Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits In Minnesota

If you are in the unfortunate position of having had a relative pass away due to an accident at work, this article will help to clarify Minnesota law on workers’ compensation death benefits that may be available to you.

On-the-job deaths can be particularly tragic because they often leave the deceased worker’s family with substantially less income at a difficult time. In Minnesota, the workers’ compensation laws provide for benefits to the worker’s surviving spouse, dependent children, and, in some cases, parents or other relatives. There is a minimum amount of compensation that must be paid to dependents, which is currently $60,000. Benefits beyond this minimum are calculated with respect to the worker’s weekly wage at the time of the accident. There is also a maximum amount of benefits available—the amount that the worker could have received on temporary total disability payments.  Note that police and law enforcement is a bit different, for more info on that please look at my police and work comp post.

What specific benefits are paid depends on what surviving relatives the worker has:

Surviving spouse and no dependent children: The spouse is entitled to receive 50% of the worker’s weekly wage for the next 10 years. The benefits will continue for this period of time even if the spouse remarries. The benefits are adjusted upwards annually, to reflect increases in average state wages, but this will not exceed 6%.

Surviving spouse and one dependent child: The spouse and the child together receive 60% of the worker’s weekly wage until the child is no longer dependent. Then, the spouse continues receiving payments, but the payments are reduced by 16 and 2/3 percent. A workers’ compensation judge will determine what portion of the benefits should be applied to the child, and in some cases, a guardian may be appointed to receive the money intended for the child.

Surviving spouse and two dependent children: A similar provision as for a spouse and one child applies, except that the payments start at 66% of the weekly wage and then are reduced by 25%.

Surviving orphan: If the worker leaves behind only a dependent child, who has no other parent, the child will receive 55% of the worker’s weekly wage. If there are two dependent orphans, the percentage is 66 2/3 percent.

No surviving spouse or dependent children, but dependent parents: In these circumstances, parents of the worker can also receive benefits. Parents can be found to be dependent if the worker was helping to financially support them before his death. If there are two surviving, dependent parents, they will receive ongoing payments of 45% of the worker’s weekly wage. For one parent, the percentage is 35 percent. There are also statutory provisions for partial dependents which may be applicable here. However, any compensation paid to parents cannot exceed the amount that the deceased worker was actually paying for the parents’ support, for a reasonable time immediately prior to the worker’s accident.

Other relatives: Finally, if there are no spouse, children, or parents entitled to compensation, benefits may be paid to more distant relatives, including grandchildren, siblings, and in-laws, IF these relatives were wholly dependent on the worker for support.

Some of the Minnesota death benefit provisions are too complex to detail at length here, but here is a great analysis of the basics of MN Work Comp Death benefits.

Workers' Compensation

Christopher Rosengren
Rosengren, Kohlmeyer & Hagen Law Office Chtd.