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Calculating Death Benefits in Maryland

Recently, the widow of a worker who was killed when he was struck by a co-worker’s vehicle while at work received a $400,000 award in death benefits from the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission. The decision to award this amount was based on the commission’s recognition that the widow was financially dependent on her spouse, which meant that she was entitled to two thirds of his average weekly wage for as long as she would have been a dependent, or until she turned 70, when she would begin to receive Social Security benefits.

Death Benefits

There are four types of workers’ compensation benefits in Maryland:

●Medical expenses

●Disability benefits

●Vocational rehabilitation

●Death benefits

Death benefits are available to the survivors of an employee who died due to a work-related disability or accident.

Worker’s compensation is usually determined by using a simple formula that is based on the worker’s average weekly wage. However, calculating death benefits requires the additional step of determining whether the surviving spouse or children were dependents of the deceased worker.


The Workers’ Compensation Act defines “dependent” as someone who was receiving reasonable necessities from the deceased at the time of the injury. The determination is not based on the time of the death of the employee, so if a person is dependent on an employee at the time of death, but not at the time of the injury, there is no entitlement to death benefits.

Additionally, the deceased’s surviving spouse or children must show that there was a reasonable expectation of continued support had the death not occurred. Dependent individuals can include:







●Disabled adult children

Time Limits

Death benefits are available only if the death of the employee occurred within seven years of the date of the accidental injury. If the death was caused by an occupational disease, then there is no such time restriction. If the death occurred as a result of an accidental injury, then the surviving family members must file an application for death benefits within 18 months of the date of death. If the death was a result of an occupational disease, the application deadline is two years.

Calculating Death Benefits

If the surviving family members are found to be dependents, the Commission will calculate the amount owed in death benefits based on the deceased’s contribution to the total family income. Once the average weekly wages of the employee and all of his or her dependents are calculated, the family income will be divided by the deceased’s average weekly wage, which will determine the percentage of the family income for which the deceased was responsible. This percentage is then multiplied by the actual average weekly wage, and the number reached will constitute the total amount of death benefits owed to the surviving family members.

Death benefits can continue to be paid for up to 144 months from the date of death and must be paid for a minimum of five years.

Charles County, MD Personal Injury Lawyers that Fight for You

The death of a loved one is a traumatic event and can be even more stressful if he or she was the sole provider in your family. If your family member was killed while at work or due to a work-related disease, you may be entitled to death benefits through workers’ compensation. Please contact the experienced Charles County, Maryland personal injury attorneys at the Law Office of Robert R. Castro at (301)870-1200 for a free consultation.