Family Benefits

Overview of the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act

Department of Labor

The Department of Labor website provides detailed information on Federal Employees' Compensation Act.


The Federal Employees’ Compensation Act is administered by the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs of the U.S. Department of Labor. It provides compensation benefits to civilian employees of the United States for disability or death of an employee resulting from personal injury sustained while in the performance of duty or to employment-related disease. Seasonal wildland firefighters are included in this definition.

It also provides for the payment of benefits to dependents if the injury or disease causes the employee’s death. Detailed information is available at the Department of Labor Website.


If no child is eligible for benefits, the widow or widower’s compensation is 50% of the monthly pay at the time of death, if death was due to an employment-related injury or disease. If a child or children are eligible for benefits, the widow or widower is entitled to 45% of the pay and each child is entitled to 15%. The total compensation may not be more than 75% of the employee’s pay or the pay of the highest step for GS-15 of the General Schedule, except when such excess is created by authorized cost-of-living increases.

If children are the sole survivors, 40% is paid for one child and 15% for each additional child, to be shared equally. Other persons such as dependent parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, and grandchildren may also be entitled to benefits. The total compensation may not exceed 75% of the employee’s pay or the pay of the highest step for GS-15 of the General Schedule, except when such excess is created by authorized cost-of-living increases.

Compensation benefits will be reduced if the employee was covered under the Federal Employees Retirement System and the survivors are eligible for Social Security benefits based on the Federal employment.

Compensation to an employee’s surviving spouse terminates upon his or her death or remarriage. However, a widow or widower’s benefit continues if the remarriage takes place after the age of 55. On remarriage before age 55, a spouse entitled to compensation under this program will receive a lump sum equal to 24 times the monthly compensation payment to which the spouse was entitled immediately before the remarriage.

Awards to children, brothers, sisters and grandchildren terminate at the age of 18, unless the dependent is incapable of self-support, or continues to be a full-time student at an accredited institution, until he or she reaches the age of 23, or has completed four years of education beyond the high school level.

Funeral and burial expenses not to exceed $800 are payable. Transportation of the body to the employee’s former residence in the United States is provided where death occurs away from the employee’s home station. In addition to any burial expenses or transportation costs, a $200 allowance is paid for the administrative costs of terminating an employee’s status with the Federal Government. (See Lump Sum Death Benefits section for more information on burial expenses.)

Payments for disability or death are increased by cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs). COLAs are applied to payments based on a disability or death that occurred more than one year before March 1 of each year. The COLA is effective on March 1 of each year and the increase is equal to the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index published for December of the preceding year.