Before making a work‐related death claim

What you will need to know before making a claim for compensation after a family member loses their life at work.

Date last updated

Thursday 02 Jul 2020

Industries and topics
  • Claims

Claiming for payments following a work-related death

We understand that losing a family member as a result of a work related injury or illness is incredibly difficult. At WorkSafe, we want you to know that we care and will assist wherever we can.  There are a range of resources and financial assistance options that may be available to you.

Claiming for payments following a work-related death

Support for dependants

Supporting the dependents of your family member is something that WorkSafe can help you with. To access this support and assistance, you will be required to complete a claim form. You can either download the claim form here or you can contact the WorkSafe Advisory service on 1800 136 089 to discuss this in more detail. WorkSafe can post a form out to you if that's easier.

Knowing it will take time

The claim process may seem like a long journey. A decision can take up to 90 days or more and we will ask for a lot of information about you and your family member. In order to process your claim quicker, it may be best to have a friend or family member to help you source information, such as financial and medical documents.

Remember if you need support along the way, please contact us and we'll be able to talk you through what is required.

What 'work‐related' means legally

You will see the term 'work-related' throughout these pages. It is a legal term that means the death was because of work, for example if there was an incident at your family members worksite where they were fatally injured.

Sometimes it's easy to determine that a death is work‐related but sometimes it may not be, such as when a death is caused by a heart attack or suicide related to work. Payments cannot be made if the death is not work‐related.

Who is a dependant?

A dependant is someone who was reliant, to some extent, on the income of the worker at the time of the work‐related death. Typically this is a partner or a child of the deceased worker and there can be multiple dependants.

The term 'partner' means:

  • spouse – a person that the worker was married to at the time of their death
    • domestic partner – a person the worker was living with as a couple on a genuine domestic basis at the time of their death
      • a person who was in a registered relationship with the worker at the time of their death

        The 'child' of a worker has a broad meaning and includes:

        • a person who is under the age of 16
          • a person who is over 16 but under the age of 25 and who is a full‐time student or full‐time apprentice
            • a child of the worker who was unborn at the time of the worker’s death

              Other family members of the deceased worker may also qualify as dependants and be entitled to payments where the worker:

              • was under the age of 21 at the time that they were fatally injured
                • did not have a dependent partner or dependent children at the time of death
                  • was contributing to the maintenance of the home in which those family members lived at the time of death

                    Non‐family members may also qualify as dependants and be entitled to payments if the worker did not have a dependent partner or dependent children at the time of death.

                    Payments that are available

                    There are a number of payments available to help you, your family and others during this challenging time. Exactly what support you can access will depend on your situation.

                    • Anyone who has paid, or is liable to pay, for medical and like services or funeral expenses that were incurred as a result of the work‐related death of a worker can make a claim for compensation.
                      • A partner and or child can make a claim for a lump sum and weekly pension if they were dependent on the income of the deceased worker.
                        • Other dependants can make a claim for a lump sum if they were dependent on the income of the deceased worker who leaves no dependants.
                          • If a deceased worker doesn't have dependants, a non‐dependant can apply to the Magistrates Court for reimbursement of expenses incurred as a result of the work‐related death if the expenses caused financial hardship.

                            Assistance clarifying eligibility

                            We understand no one family is the same. If you are unsure of your or your family's eligibility for support, please contact WorkSafe's Advisory service and they will be able to assist you.

                            About financial support

                            If the claim is accepted, the WorkSafe agent can pay:

                            1. Medical expenses
                              • Reasonable medical and like services provided to your family member, for example, the cost of an ambulance and hospital or medical treatment
                              • Counselling for immediate family members, for example, a spouse or partner, child, parents, grandparents or siblings. Counselling must be provided by a registered medical practitioner, psychologist or social worker.

                              A service provider, such as an ambulance, hospital, funeral director or counsellor can submit invoices directly to the WorkSafe agent for services they have provided. If a family member pays an invoice for these expenses they can submit a claim for reimbursement to the WorkSafe agent.

                            2. Funeral expenses

                              Up to $15230* towards funeral expenses, that can include:

                              • the funeral director
                              • cremation, coffin, grave site or other fees associated with a burial
                              • costs to transport your family member to the funeral home
                              • a service or gathering
                              • a simple identification plaque
                            3. Lump sum payments

                              Lump sum payments may be made to dependent partners and the children of a worker who has lost their life as a result of a work‐related injury or illness. Lump sum payments are set at $623,950* to be shared between all eligible dependants.

                              Where a deceased worker leaves no dependent partner or children, a lump sum payment may be made to other dependants (such as parents or siblings) of a worker who has lost their life as a result of a work‐related injury or illness. Lump sum payments, up to the shared limit of $623,950*, are determined by the Magistrates' Court. No weekly pension is paid.

                              Where a deceased worker leaves no dependants, an amount not exceeding $37,220* may be shared amongst non‐dependent family members (such as parents or siblings) who have experienced financial hardship due to incurring expenses related to the death. The amount is determined by the Magistrates Court.

                            4. Weekly pension

                              Weekly pensions can be paid to:

                              • a partner or spouse for three years from the date of the worker's death
                              • dependent children until they reach the age of 16
                              • and continues to age 25 while the dependent remains a full-time student or apprentice. 

                              Weekly pensions are calculated using the pre‐injury average weekly earnings (PIAWE) of your family member. For details about how PIAWE is calculated, please contact the WorkSafe agent or call the WorkSafe advisory service.

                              *The figures provided apply to deaths that occur on or after 15 October 2017. Maximum amounts are indexed 1 July each year. Figures are correct as at 1 July 2019.

                              Before a pension payment is made

                              To make the pension payment, the WorkSafe agent will need:

                              • a Tax File Number Declaration form for each dependent, regardless of age because pension payments are considered taxable income
                              • bank account details if you choose to have the weekly pension paid directly to a bank account (otherwise payments are made by cheque)
                              • written confirmation of full‐time studies or a full-time apprenticeship for children over the age of 16 each year.

                              Weekly pension payments to a child under the age of 18 years must be paid to their parent, guardian or trustee.

                            Taxation on payments

                            Tax is not deducted from the lump sum payment.

                            Weekly pension payments are treated by the tax office as normal income. Pensions paid to minors will likely be eligible for the tax free threshold and so most likely no tax will be paid.

                            WorkSafe will issue Pay As You Go (PAYG) payment summaries for all dependants at the end of each financial year in which a pension payment is made.

                            Union support

                            Your family member may have been affiliated with a union. Union Assist is a service that is operated by the Victorian Trades Hall Council. Union Assist provides a free and independent service that offers support, guidance and advice.

                            To find your family member's union or find out more information about support available to you, please contact Union Assist on (03) 9639 6144.

                            Legal advice

                            Before lodging your claim form, you may want to consider legal advice and or representation particularly if there are complex medical issues surrounding the death of your family member or if there are any disputes about eligibility.

                            Payments to a child, person with a disability or a non-dependant person will have their entitlement decided by a Magistrate Court so you will need legal representation for these matters.

                            If you do not have a solicitor, you may wish to phone the Law Institute of Victoria's legal referral service for advice on (03) 9607 9550.

                            Financial advice

                            You may wish to contact your bank, accountant, financial planner or the Australian Taxation Office on 132 865 for financial or taxation advice.

                            Centrelink

                            You may be able to claim Centrelink payments while waiting for WorkSafe entitlements to be determined. Call the Family Assistance office on 136 150.

                            Find support with Ask Izzy

                            Support services you can use any time you need extra support including food parcels, housing help, financial aid, mental wellness, specialty health assistance and counselling.