Massachusetts Families Plead with Lawmakers for Doubled Funeral Costs in Workers Comp Benefits
Deborah King is a classic case in point: her husband died after a severe workplace accident, but the funeral allotment in his workers comp benefits did not cover the full funeral costs.
Paul King, Deborah’s husband, was a maintenance subcontractor at Logan Airport, and in 2005, he was electrocuted. Because the Kings were only in their 50’s at the time, neither had made any burial arrangements.
“My children and I struggled to get through the ensuing months and years. I was unable to work for a while, but unfortunately the bills did not stop coming just because we were grieving,” she told lawmakers on the Labor and Workforce Committee Tuesday. “Among my son’s college tuition bills and the mortgage were the funeral bills.”
King and others in Massachusetts are advocating to double the workers comp benefits for funeral costs. Currently, state law has set the burial allowance at $4,000; State Rep. Garrett Bradley (D-Hingham) and Senator Bryan Joyce (D-Milton) have both filed bills that also advocate for doubling that workers comp paying, to $8,000.
So far, lawmakers on the Labor and Workforce Development Committee say that they support the proposal. While the Committee voted on similar legislation last session, the bill ended up stalling on its way to becoming law.
Workers comp funeral reimbursements have not been amended for decades. Last time the workers comp payout was examined was in 1992, when the rate went from $2,000 to $4,000.
Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, the executive director of the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, reports that her organization frequently receives phone calls from family members of workers who died in workplace accidents, and who suddenly find that they cannot bury their loved one because the workers comp funeral payout only covers half the cost of a funeral.
According to the National Funeral Directors’ Association, the cost of a funeral alone – not including the cemetery plot, grave marker, flowers, or obituary notices – was $7,775 in 2010.
Several other states have burial reimbursements in their workers comp costs, but are more at pace with the current cost of a funeral.
Workers Compensation Death Benefits in South Carolina
Workers’ Compensation coverage is elective for employers in South Carolina with three or less employees. Anyone employing four or more employees is required to have workman’s compensation insurance, which provides benefits in the event that an employee is killed related to a workplace accident. When a loved one is killed in a work accident, a spouse and each child may receive weekly compensation.
Additional survivors’ benefits included in South Carolina workers comp:
- Medical: Medical expenses related to the employee’s death will be paid and/or reimbursed.
- Services: Funeral expenses as set forth pursuant to South Carolina Code Section 42-9-290.
- Financial assistance in the form of compensation benefits will be paid with some limitations
A claim for death benefits must be filed within two years of the employee’s death.
The Strom Law Firm Understands Worker’s Comp Legislation
The workers comp lawyers at The Strom Law Firm, LLC proudly seek justice on behalf of employees injured or killed on the job who work for private companies, as well as employees working for local county, city, and state government. We are licensed to practice throughout South Carolina, as well as Georgia and New York. If you are confused about worker’s comp laws, or have had your worker’s comp claim denied, contact us. We offer free consultations to discuss the facts of your case. 803.252.4800.