Refresher on Survivor Benefits in Iowa Workers Compensation

by | Mar 27, 2015

Unfortunately, there are times where a work accident results in the death of an employee. In those situations, assuming the accident was work related, ICA § 85.31 and its subsequent sections detail what benefits are oweable and to whom. Benefits are payable to the surviving spouse for life or until remarriage. Be aware that commutation of benefits for a surviving spouse is a possibility. However, also be aware that the commutation tables for surviving spouses are different than those for injured workers. Typically, commutation for a surviving spouse reduces the benefits the earlier the commutation is requested in relation to the employees’ death. This is because the possibility of remarriage is increased the younger the surviving spouse is.

Dependant children are also entitled to a share of the benefits until they reach the age 18, or age 25 if they are actually considered dependant at that time. There can be other circumstances where “non-traditional” family members can be considered dependants.

If a surviving spouse remarries, and there are no dependent children, the surviving spouse is entitled to a two year lump sum payment of benefits at the time of marriage. Please note that the rate payable, in cases of multiple dependants, is divided amongst the dependants-sometimes at the direction of the Commission.

Finally, if an employee dies arising out of a work related injury, the employer must pay the reasonable expenses of the employee’s burial expenses. Those burial expenses cannot exceed 12 times the state wide weekly wage in effect at the time of the employees death. Also, please note that in certain circumstances, a lump sum payment to the Second Injury Fund may be required.

For questions regarding calculations of benefits under ICA § 85.31, please don’t hesitate to contact Iowa Workers’ Compensation Attorney Paul Barta at 402-475-1075 or