Workers' Compensation
Spring 2022

Death Benefits in Delaware – Changes to Surviving Spouse’s Eligibility

In Delaware, if an employee dies from a work-related injury or illness, death benefits can be awarded under 19 Del. C. § 2330 to the surviving spouse, children, and other dependents in limited situations.

The compensation rate of death benefits can be between 66 2/3% and 80% of the employer’s average weekly wage, dependent upon the number of eligible beneficiaries.  The benefits are paid for a minimum period of 400 weeks.

Concerning surviving children, such compensation can continue beyond 400 weeks to children until they reach the age of 18, or alternatively, until they reach the age of 25 if they are enrolled as a full-time student.  There are additional considerations made for disabled children beyond 18.

Previously, the surviving spouse’s eligibility for death benefits would end upon remarriage.  When a spouse remarried, they would receive a two-year lump sum payment, but future benefits would be terminated.

Because of a recent amendment to section 2330, a surviving spouse’s eligibility for ongoing benefits has now been extended.  As a result of the amendment, a surviving spouse’s benefits continue until the death of the surviving spouse, regardless of if they remarry.  However, remarriage will reduce the compensation rate for a surviving spouse.  The compensation rate is reduced to 90% upon remarriage for the first ten years after the spouse remarries.  After ten years, the compensation rate is reduced to 75% of the original compensation rate for the surviving spouse’s life.

Contact Robert Hunt, Jr. for more information on this article.