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Wisconsin Workers' Compensation Legal Library

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102.51 Dependents.

(1) WHO ARE. (a) The following persons are entitled to death benefits as if they are solely and wholly dependent for support upon a deceased employee:

  1. A wife upon a husband with whom she is living at the time of his death.

    1. A husband upon a wife with whom he is living at the time of her death.

    2. 2m. A domestic partner under ch. 770 upon his or her partner with whom he or she is living at the time of the partner's death.
  2. A child under the age of 18 years upon the parent with whom he or she is living at the time of the death of the parent, there being no surviving dependent parent.

  3. A child over the age of 18 years, but physically or mentally incapacitated from earning, upon the parent with whom he or she is living at the time of the death of the parent, there being no surviving dependent parent.

Where a dependent who is entitled to death benefits under this subsection survives the deceased employee, all other dependents shall be excluded. The charging of any portion of the support and maintenance of a child upon one of the parents, or any voluntary contribution toward the support of a child by a parent, or an obligation to support a child by a parent constitutes living with any such parent within the meaning of this subsection.
W HO ARE NOT. (a) No person shall be considered a dependent unless that person is a spouse, a domestic partner under ch. 770 , a divorced spouse who has not remarried, or a lineal descendant, lineal ancestor, brother, sister, or other member of the family, whether by blood or by adoption, of the deceased employee.
If for 8 years or more prior to the date of injury a deceased employee has been a resident of the United States, it shall be conclusively presumed that no person who has remained a nonresident alien during that period is either totally or partially dependent upon the deceased employee for support.
No person who is a nonresident alien shall be found to be either totally or partially dependent on a deceased employee for support who cannot establish dependency by proving contributions from the deceased employee by written evidence or tokens of the transfer of money, such as drafts, letters of credit, microfilm or other copies of paid share drafts, canceled checks, or receipts for the payment to any bank, express company, United States post office, or other agency commercially engaged in the transfer of funds from one country to another, for transmission of funds on behalf of said deceased employee to such nonresident alien claiming dependency. This provision shall not be applicable unless the employee has been continuously in the United States for at least one year prior to his or her injury, and has been remuneratively employed therein for at least 6 months.
D IVISION AMONG DEPENDENTS. If there is more than one person wholly or partially dependent on a deceased employee, the death benefit shall be divided between those dependents in such proportion as the department or the division determines to be just, considering their ages and other facts bearing on their dependency.
D EPENDENCY AS OF THE DATE OF DEATH. Questions as to who is a dependent and the extent of his or her dependency shall be determined as of the date of the death of the employee, and the dependent's right to any death benefit becomes fixed at that time, regardless of any subsequent change in conditions. The death benefit shall be directly recoverable by and payable to the dependents entitled to the death benefit or their legal guardians or trustees. In case of the death of a dependent whose right to a death benefit has become fixed, so much of the benefit as is unpaid is payable to the dependent's personal representatives in gross, unless the department or the division determines that the unpaid

benefit shall be reassigned under sub. (6) and paid to any other dependent who is physically or mentally incapacitated or a minor. For purposes of this subsection, a child of the employee who is born after the death of the employee is considered to be a dependent as of the date of death.

W HEN NOT INTERESTED. No dependent of an injured employee shall be deemed a party in interest to any proceeding by the employee for the enforcement of the employee's claim for compensation, nor with respect to the compromise thereof by such employee. A compromise of all liability entered into by an employee is binding upon the employee's dependents, except that any dependent of a deceased employee may submit the compromise for review under s. 102.16 (1) .
D IVISION AMONG DEPENDENTS. Benefits accruing to a minor dependent child may be awarded to either parent in the discretion of the department or the division. Notwithstanding sub. (1) , the department or the division may reassign the death benefit as between a surviving spouse or a domestic partner under ch. 770 and any children specified in sub. (1) and s. 102.49 in accordance with their respective needs for the death benefit.

(7) C ERTAIN DEFENSE BARRED. In proceedings for the collec

tion of primary death benefit or burial expense it shall not be a

defense that the applicant, either individually or as a partner or member, was an employer of the deceased.

History: 1975 c. 94 , 147 ; 1977 c. 195 ; 1981 c. 92 ; 1983 a. 98 , 368 ; 1993 a. 112 , 492 ; 1995 a. 225 ; 1997 a. 253 ; 1999 a. 162 ; 2009 a. 28 ; 2015 a. 55 .

Cross-reference: See also s. DWD 80.48 , Wis. adm. code.

A posthumously born illegitimate child does not qualify as a dependent under sub. (4). Claimants not falling within one of the classifications under sub. (2) (a) will not qualify for benefits, regardless of dependency in fact. Larson v. DILHR, 76 Wis. 2d 595 , 252 N.W.2d 33 (1977).

Sub. (5) has no application to a claim for a death benefit because a death benefit claim is not an " employee's claim for compensation." While sub. (5) prohibits a dependent from being a party to a worker's claim for disability benefits, a dependent claiming a death benefit is prosecuting only his or her own claim. Edward Brothers, Inc. v. LIRC, 2007 WI App 128 , 300 Wis. 2d 638 , 731 N.W.2d 302 , 06-2398 .

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