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California Worker’s Compensation Death Benefits: A Guide for Surviving Dependents

Facing a Loss? Worker’s Compensation Can Help

The sudden loss of a loved one is incredibly hard. When work is involved, the financial burden on surviving family can feel overwhelming. California’s Worker’s Compensation program offers some relief through death benefits.

This guide explains:

  • What death benefits are
  • Who qualifies
  • How to claim them
  • What compensation is available

What are Death Benefits?

Death benefits are financial payments for eligible dependents of a worker who dies from a work-related injury or illness. California’s no-fault system ensures support regardless of blame. These benefits aim to replace part of the deceased’s income and ease the financial hardship.

Who Can Get Death Benefits?

  • Spouses (legal or domestic partners)
  • Minor children and disabled children
  • Financially dependent parents, siblings, and grandchildren (dependent on the deceased for more than half their support)

How to Claim Death Benefits

  1. File a Death Claim: File a Workers’ Compensation claim form (Form WC-DEAT) with the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC). It’s available online or by calling 1 (800) 731-3452.
  2. Employer Response: The employer (or insurance) has 14 days to accept or deny the claim. If denied, you can request a hearing.
  3. Determining Benefits: If approved, the DWC calculates benefits based on the deceased’s wages and number of dependents.

What Compensation is Offered?

  1. Dependency Benefits: This replaces a portion of lost income. It’s calculated as two-thirds (66.7%) of the deceased’s average weekly earnings, with maximum caps depending on dependents:
    • One Dependent: $250,000
    • Two Dependents: $290,000
    • Three or More Dependents: $320,000
    Benefits are usually paid in installments (at least $224 per week) and may continue until a minor dependent reaches adulthood (18) or for life if disabled.
  2. Burial Expenses: Up to $10,000 for reasonable burial and funeral costs.

Important Considerations

  • Deadline to File: There’s a one-year deadline from the date of death to file a claim.
  • Legal Representation: Consider seeking an attorney specializing in Workers’ Compensation law, especially if your claim is denied.
  • Additional Benefits: Depending on the situation, Social Security survivor benefits or wrongful death lawsuits may be available.


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. The Workers’ Compensation Group of Los Angeles has compiled a guide of the top 10 attorneys in Los Angeles, California to aid you in your search.

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 online.

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

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