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Worker's Compensation Death Benefits in California

The loss of a loved one is a devastating experience. When that loss is compounded by a

work-related injury or illness, the financial burden on surviving family members can be

overwhelming. California’s Worker’s Compensation program offers some relief through death

benefits. This blog post will serve as a guide for surviving dependents, explaining what death

benefits are, how to claim them, and what kind of compensation is available.

What are Death Benefits?

Death benefits are financial payments made to eligible dependents of a worker who dies as a

result of a work-related injury or illness. California’s no-fault Workers’ Compensation system

ensures surviving family members receive support, regardless of whether the employer was

negligent. These benefits are intended to replace part of the deceased worker’s income and

help dependents cope with the financial hardship caused by their loss.

Who is Eligible for Death Benefits?

Spouses, children, and financially dependent relatives of the deceased worker may be eligible

for death benefits.

  • Spouse: A legal spouse or a registered domestic partner is considered a total dependent and is entitled to benefits.

  • Children: Minor children (under 18) and disabled children are considered total dependents.

  • Other Dependents: Parents, siblings, and grandchildren may be eligible for benefits if they were financially dependent on the deceased worker for more than half of their support. The degree of dependency will determine the amount of benefits awarded

How to Claim Death Benefits

The process for claiming death benefits typically involves the following steps:

  1. Filing a Death Claim: The surviving dependent(s) should file a Workers’ Compensation claim form (Form WC-DEAT) with the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC). This form can be obtained online from the DWC website or by calling 1 (800) 731-3452.

  2. Employer Response: The employer (or their insurance company) has 14 days to accept or deny the claim. If the claim is denied, you have the right to request a hearing before a Workers’ Compensation Administrative Law Judge (WCJ).

  3. Determining Benefits: If the claim is accepted, the DWC will calculate the amount of benefits based on the deceased worker’s wages and the number of dependents.

What Compensation Does Death Benefits Offer?

California’s Worker’s Compensation death benefits program offers two main types of


  1. Dependency Benefits: This is the primary benefit, designed to replace a portion of the deceased worker’s lost income. The benefit amount is calculated as two-thirds (66.7%) of the deceased’s average weekly earnings before death. There are maximum caps on the total amount payable, depending on the number of dependents:

  • One Dependent: $250,000

  • Two Dependents: $290,000

  • Three or More Dependents: $320,000

  1. Benefits are usually paid in installments, similar to temporary disability payments, but no less than $224 per week. In some cases, benefits may continue until a minor dependent reaches adulthood (18 years old) or for life if disabled.

  2. Burial Expenses: The employer or insurance company is responsible for reimbursing reasonable burial and funeral costs, up to a maximum of $10,000.

Important Considerations

  • Deadline to File: There is a one-year deadline from the date of death to file a Workers’ Compensation death claim.

  • Legal Representation: The death benefits process can be complex. Consider seeking legal advice from an attorney specializing in Workers’ Compensation law, particularly if your claim is denied. Take a look at The Top 10 Workers' Comp Attorneys if you’re seeking legal representation.

  • Additional Benefits: Depending on the circumstances of the death, surviving dependents may also be eligible for Social Security survivor benefits or wrongful death lawsuits outside of the Workers’ Compensation system.


Losing a loved one due to a work-related incident is a tragedy. California’s Worker’s Compensation death benefits program can help ease the financial burden on surviving dependents during this difficult time. If you have lost a loved one in a work-related accident or illness, understanding your eligibility for death benefits and the claims process is crucial. This blog post provides a starting point, but remember – consulting with an attorney experienced in Workers’ Compensation law is highly recommended to ensure you receive the full benefits you deserve.

Remember: This is just the beginning of your journey. Consulting with multiple attorneys

and finding one who resonates with your needs and personality is crucial.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding a work injury, unsafe working

conditions or unfair treatment, be sure to contact us for a free consultation/case review.

To learn more or share your experiences call the Workers’ Compensation Group of Los

Angeles at (877) 292-4888, email: or schedule a consultation

Connect with The Workers’ Compensation Group to follow, like and for more tips and


Additional Resources:

Stay Connected:

  • Follow The Workers’ Compensation Group for tips and news.

  • Call (877) 292-4888, email: or schedule an online consultation.

Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal

advice. Consult an attorney for legal guidance specific to your situation.

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