Who Is Eligible for Missouri Workers' Compensation Survivor Benefits?

December 16, 2011,

As workers' compensation lawyers in Springfield MO, we have become aware that sometimes people do not receive benefits they are entitled to under Missouri's laws because they are not aware that they are eligible for those benefits. We want to discuss the importance of listing your next of kin or who to contact in case of emergency in your employment personnel records.

695076_mother_and_son.jpgAccording to Missouri workers' compensation laws, if a family member dies in a work related accident, the employer/insurer must pay as much as five thousand dollars for burial costs. Added to that, the surviving spouse or other dependents are eligible for two thirds of the victim's wages for a specific period of time.

When the Division of Workers' Compensation is informed of any worker's death; the process is set into motion. They will notify the family of the deceased about their rights to compensation under the law. However, they will only notify the surviving family if they are told by the employer that there are indeed eligible dependents. Employers are required by law to keep records for every employee. You have probably noticed that anytime you start a job, there is always the question of who to contact in case of emergency.

However, the Division of Workers' Compensation has reported that many Springfield MO and other MO employers are not keeping such records. When discovered, some of these negligent employers have been referred to the state attorney general's office, because not complying with this law is considered workers' compensation fraud.

It is not only surviving spouses who are eligible for survivor benefits. Anyone who is considered dependent upon the deceased for their livelihood, such as underage children, or elderly, dependent parents, can also be eligible.

In the case of a dependent spouse, that person would continue receiving survivor benefits until they either pass on or remarry. Dependent children could receive benefits at least until they turn eighteen, and possibly longer if they go to college or join the military.

When asked in an interview what advice he would give to someone who has lost a loved one in a work related accident, Missouri Division of Workers' Compensation Director Peter Lyskowski replied, "Unfortunately, these cases so often become very complicated and so the best thing I can tell folks is to please consider consulting an attorney because the stakes are high. There's a lot of money involved and it's really important benefit for so many people. It's also an incredibly difficult time in a person's life and so to have someone there who can help explain the law, who can help assert their claim is really really important."

Click here to listen to the rest of the interview with Peter Lyskowski on this subject.

Does your employer know who your dependents are? If your situation has changed since you started working (for instance, if you have recently gotten married), you might want to make sure you employer has your up-to-date information on file.

If you have a workers' compensation claim or survivor benefits claim that you need legal assistance with, please call the Aaron Sachs & Associates today. We have five Missouri offices for your convenience, including Springfield, Joplin, Cape Girardeau, Columbia and our newest office in Kansas City. Initial consultations are always free.

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