ASSEMBLY, No. 1835
STATE OF NEW JERSEY
INTRODUCED FEBRUARY 21, 2002
Assemblyman NEIL M. COHEN
District 20 (Union)
Increases workers' compensation benefits for dependents.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act increasing certain workers' compensation benefits for dependents and amending R.S.34:15-13.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. R.S.34:15-13 is amended to read as follows:
34:15-13. Except as hereinafter provided, in case of death, compensation shall be computed, but not distributed, on the following basis:
a. For one [dependent, 50%] or more dependents, 100% of wages.
b. [For two dependents, 55% of wages.] (Deleted by amendment, P.L. , c. .)
c. [For three dependents, 60% of wages.] (Deleted by amendment, P.L. , c. .)
d. [For four dependents, 65% of wages.] (Deleted by amendment, P.L. , c. .)
e. [For five or more dependents, 70% of wages.] (Deleted by amendment, P.L. , c. .)
f. The term "dependents" shall apply to and include any or all of the following who are dependent upon the deceased at the time of accident or the occurrence of occupational disease, or at the time of death, namely: husband, wife, parent, stepparents, grandparents, children, stepchildren, grandchildren, child in esse, posthumous child, illegitimate children, brothers, sisters, half brothers, half sisters, niece, nephew. Legally adopted children shall, in every particular, be considered as natural children. Dependency shall be conclusively presumed as to the decedent's spouse and to any natural child of a decedent under 18 years of age or, if enrolled as a full-time student, under 23 years of age, who was actually a part of the decedent's household at the time of the decedent's death. Every provision of this article applying to one class shall be equally applicable to the other. Should any dependent of a deceased employee die during the period covered by such weekly payments, the right of such dependent to compensation under this section shall cease, but should the surviving spouse of a deceased employee remarry during such period and before the total compensation is paid, the spouse shall be entitled to receive the remainder of the compensation which would have been due the spouse had the spouse not remarried, or 100 times the amount of weekly compensation paid immediately preceding the remarriage, whichever is the lesser. The foregoing schedule applies only to persons wholly dependent, and in the case of persons only partially dependent, except in the case of the surviving spouse and children who were actually a part of the decedent's household at the time of death, the compensation shall be such proportion of the scheduled percentage as the amounts actually contributed to them by the deceased for their support constituted of his total wages and the provision as to a minimum of 20% of the average weekly wage as set forth in subsection a. of R.S.34:15-12 shall not apply to such compensation. In determining the number of dependents, where the deceased employee was a minor, the number of persons dependent upon the deceased employee shall be determined in the same way as if the deceased employee were an adult, notwithstanding any rule of law as to the person entitled to a minor's wages.
g. Compensation shall be computed upon the foregoing basis. Distribution shall be made among dependents, if more than one, according to the order of the Division of Workers' Compensation, which shall, when applied to for that purpose, determine, upon the facts being presented to it, the proportion to be paid to or on behalf of each dependent according to the relative-dependency. Payment on behalf of infants shall be made to the surviving parent, if any, or to the statutory or testamentary guardian.
h. If death results from the accident or occupational disease, whether there be dependents or not, expenses of the last sickness of the deceased employee shall be paid in accordance with the provisions for medical and hospital service as set forth in R.S.34:15-15. In addition, the cost of burial and of a funeral, not to exceed $3,500 shall be paid to the dependent or other person having paid the costs of burial and the funeral. In the event that the dependent or other person has paid less than $3,500 for the costs of burial and the funeral, the dependent or other person shall be reimbursed in the amount paid and, if the costs of burial and the funeral exceed the amount so paid, the difference between the said amount and $3,500 or so much thereof as may be necessary to pay the cost of burial and the funeral, shall be paid to the undertaker or embalmer or the dependent or other person having paid the costs of burial and the funeral. In the event that no part of the costs of burial and the funeral have been paid, the amount of such cost of burial and the funeral, not to exceed $3,500, shall be paid to the undertaker or embalmer or the dependent or other person who is to pay the costs of burial and the funeral.
i. In computing compensation to those named in this section, except husband, wife, parents and stepparents, and except as otherwise provided in this section, only those under 18 or over 40 years of age shall be included and then only for that period in which they are under 18 or over 40; provided, however, that payments to such physically or mentally deficient persons [as] who are for such reason dependent shall be made during the full compensation period of 450 weeks.
j. The maximum compensation in case of death shall be subject to the maximum compensation as stated in subsection a. of R.S.34:15-12 and a minimum of 20% of average weekly wages per week as set forth in subsection a. of R.S.34:15-12, except in the case of partial dependency as provided in this section. This compensation shall be paid, in the case of a surviving spouse, during the entire period of survivorship or until such surviving spouse shall remarry and, in the case of other dependents, during 450 weeks and if at the expiration of 450 weeks there shall be one or more dependents under 18 years of age, compensation shall be continued for such dependents until they reach 18 years of age, or 23 years of age while enrolled as a full-time student, [at the schedule] as provided [under subsections] in subsection a. [to e.] of this section.
(cf: P.L.1995, c.185, s.1)
2. This act shall take effect immediately and apply to all claims accruing on or after the effective date.
This bill increases the weekly workers' compensation benefit amount for the dependents of a worker who dies from workplace illness or injury to 100% of the worker's weekly wages received at the time of the death. Current law provides weekly benefits of 50% of the weekly wages for one dependent, 55% for two dependents, 60% for three dependents, 65% for four dependents, and 70% for four or more dependents.