When a worker passes away as the result of a work injury, South Carolina workers’ compensation law provides some very important benefits that might help keep survivors financially afloat for a while. Determining what portion of those benefits you qualify for can be very complicated, deepening the turmoil and frustration of a family already plunged into unexpected loss.

If you need this information, we are terribly sorry for your recent loss. We hope the information here helps you understand how benefits are split between the typical beneficiaries in a South Carolina workers’ compensation death case.

These cases get complicated, and you and your family can't afford to be shortchanged. Let us make it easy on you. Get your questions answered in a free, no pressure strategy session with a Spartanburg, SC workers’ comp attorney. Call toll free at 888-230-1841 or fill out a Get Help Now form.

“Wholly Dependent” Beneficiaries Get the Maximum Benefit

These beneficiaries qualify for at least a share of the maximum benefit:

  • A surviving spouse and certain children are presumed “wholly dependent.” South Carolina law presumes the surviving spouse is entitled to at least half of the maximum benefit. Children also qualify if they are under age 18; or they are age 19 to 23 and full-time students; or they are mentally or physically incapable of supporting themselves. If a child loses his right to this presumption, the rest of the benefits get paid to the surviving spouse; if there is no surviving spouse, the case is treated as if the worker left no dependents, a situation we will discuss later. There’s one vital exception: a child who gets benefits for being under 18 cannot lose the maximum benefit.
  • Any other person proven “wholly dependent” on the worker. Unlike surviving spouses and children, who are automatically presumed to be dependents, these folks must prove that the deceased worker was their main source of income.
  • Nonresident aliens are treated differently. South Carolina law limits the dependents of a nonresident alien to a surviving spouse and children; if the deceased person had neither a spouse nor children, a surviving parent the worker supported for at least the prior three years can be classified as a dependent. The benefits for nonresident aliens can be slashed to half the value of benefits owed, reduced to present value.

Wholly dependent beneficiaries take the entire benefit, meaning folks who are partially dependent on the worker get nothing.

Partial Death Benefits Are Rare

Partial death benefits are available only if there are no wholly dependent beneficiaries. To qualify, a survivor must prove he depends on a worker for part of his support, then prove the amount of death benefits he is entitled to. This can involve an extremely complex calculation, taking into account the proportion of the worker’s income given to you every year.

Benefits When the Worker Leaves No Dependents

Remember the surviving spouse and certain children are presumed dependent, as described above.

  • If there are no dependents. All benefits go to the spouse, and if none, the children.
  • If there are no children, benefits go to the worker’s parents. Parents can be barred from getting any benefits if it is proven they failed to provide for the worker’s needs as a child, as required by law.
  • No dependents, children, or parents. The worker’s personal representative of the estate gets the actual costs for burial and administration of the estate. The rest of the benefits get paid to the Commission to be distributed according to law.

Claiming the Benefits You Deserve Under Law

If you’ve been shocked by the death of a loved one from an on-the-job injury in Spartanburg County or anywhere in South Carolina, you owe it to yourself to speak with an experienced South Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer. He can ease your burden. He will make sure you don’t overlook any benefits you are entitled to and make sure your family is protected as best as it can be.

If you’re suffering a tragic work-related loss, you don’t have to deal with it alone. Feel free to contact us in the best way for you: by email, by live chat from our site, or by calling us at 888.230.1841 toll free. We would like to show your what we can do to make sure you get all the benefits you can, as fast as possible, and give you legal support in an uncertain time.


Rob Usry
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Rob is a Spartanburg personal injury lawyer. Rob also practices as a workers' compensation attorney.