In my last blog post, I discussed what dependency benefits are available to primary beneficiary dependents of a deceased worker under the Georgia workers’ compensation law. In this post, I will discuss how long primary beneficiary dependents can receive dependency benefits.
How long can a surviving spouse receive dependency benefits?
In general, dependents only receive dependency benefits while they remain dependent on the deceased worker. The Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act, provides some specific limits on the time frame for receiving dependency benefits. O.C.G.A. 34-9-265 states that the dependency benefits of a spouse will be terminated if the spouse remarries or cohabits with someone of the opposite sex. Apart from those situations, however, the spouse usually will continue receiving dependency benefits until he or she reaches the maximum limit allowed by law.
In the case of a spouse, dependency benefits are limited to a total of $220,000. However, this limit only applies if there were no dependent children at the time of the worker’s death. If there were dependent children, the spouse can receive benefits until age 65 or for a period of 400 weeks, even if this amount goes over the $220,000 cap.
How long can a child receive dependency benefits
The other type of primary beneficiaries are children. Children’s dependency benefits are generally limited by age. Most children continue to receive dependency benefits until age 18.
There are a couple of exceptions that allow children to draw benefits past 18 years of age. The first exception allows a child to continue to receive benefits up until age 22 if the child remains enrolled full time in good standing in high school or a postsecondary institution (college or technical schools). Also, if the dependent child is physically or mentally incapable of earning a living, then there is no age limit. The child can receive benefits as long as the child remains dependent.
What about other dependents
In my final blog post on death cases and dependency benefits in Georgia, I will discuss secondary/partial dependents, when they can receive benefits, and for how long.