Massachusetts Survivor Benefits

Survivor BenefitsUpdated October 2013

ONE-TIME DEATH BENEFIT

A non-taxable benefit of $100,000 payable to the family of a firefighter who is killed or dies from injuries while in the performance of duties and as a result of an incident, accident, or violence.

Family is defined as the surviving spouse or, if there is no spouse, the child or children. If no spouse or children, the parent(s) receives the benefit.

Volunteer or call firefighters: Massachusetts communities with volunteer or call firefighters are required to provide a death benefit to survivors of fallen firefighters who are killed in the line of duty. Communities have the option of providing an insurance policy that makes a one-time payment of $500,000, buying an annuity that pays between two-thirds and 100% of a first-year firefighter salary, or buying an insurance policy providing an annuity with the same payout.

Contact:
State Board of Retirement
One Ashburton Place, 12th Floor
Boston, MA 02108
Phone: (617) 367-7770 or (800) 392-6014 (Toll free in-state)
Email: srb@tre.state.ma.us
Website: www.mass.gov/treasury

(Reference: Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 32 § 100 A)

A $100,000 killed-in-line-of-duty benefit shall be a one-time award payable to the family of a firefighter, public prosecutor, police officer, or corrections officer who, while in the performance of his duties and as a result of incident, accident, or violence, is killed or sustains injuries which are the direct and proximate cause of his death.

This benefit shall be in addition to amounts payable under Sec. 100 and shall be payable to the family of the deceased public safety employee in a manner determined by the state board of retirement. As used in this section, the word family shall mean the surviving spouse or, if there is no surviving spouse, the child or children, or, if there is no surviving child, the parent or parents. The board, at its discretion, may purchase life insurance for the purpose of paying said benefit.

This benefit shall not be taxable by the commonwealth.

This act shall apply in the case of a death occurring on or after January 1, 1993.

Contact:
Massachusetts Department of Revenue
P.O. Box 9569
Boston, MA 02114- 9569
Phone: (617) 626-2350
Website: www.mass.gov/dor


WORKERS’ COMPENSATION

Benefit is 66 2/3 % of employee’s wages for a spouse or a spouse with child(ren) with a minimum weekly benefit of $110 and a maximum weekly benefit of $565.94. Dependent surviving spouses receive benefits during periods when they are not fully self-supporting and benefits cease upon remarriage. Total maximum payable may not exceed 250 times the State’s Average Weekly Wage in effect at time of injury.

Children receive benefits until age 18 or beyond age 18 if disabled, or regardless of age if full-time students. Additional $6 will be added per child if weekly benefits are below $150.

To receive workers’ compensation benefits the surviving spouse must take the initiative and file a workers’ compensation claim through a workers’ compensation attorney to receive any compensation. The determination as to whether the claim will be paid will be determined by the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board.

Contact:
Department of Industrial Accidents
Workers’ Compensation
600 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02111
Phone: (617) 727-4900 or (800) 323-3249
E-mail: Info2@dia.state.ma.us
Website: www.mass.gov/lwd
or local retirement board for further information.


FUNERAL BENEFIT

Cities operating under a Plan D or a Plan E charter may vote to provide up to $5,000 for funeral expenses.

Contact:
State Board of Retirement
One Ashburton Place, 12th Floor
Boston, MA 02108
Phone: (617) 367-7770 or (800) 647-2300 (Toll free in-state)
Website: www.mass.gov/treasury

Maximum of $4,000 for burial expenses.

Contact:
Department of Industrial Accidents
Workers’ Compensation
600 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02111
Phone: (617) 727-4900 or (800) 323-3249
Website: www.mass.gov/lwd


RETIREMENT/PENSION PLAN

In Massachusetts, most career firefighters are covered by local or municipal retirement plans. Always begin by checking with the fire department’s benefits officer for guidance. If the particular locality belongs to the Commonwealth retirement system, the benefits available are as follows:

Fire department members covered by civil service retirement: Annual amount payable shall equal the maximum salary set for the position whether or not the deceased had reached the maximum at time of death. Payable to spouse, regardless of remarriage, until death.

Benefits paid only when the death was in the performance of duties and as a result of an accident while responding to or returning from a fire or emergency alarm, or while at the scene of a fire or emergency.

Contact:
State Board of Retirement
One Ashburton Place, 12th Floor
Boston, MA 02108
Phone: (617) 367-7770 or (800) 392-6014 (Toll free in-state)
Website: www.mass.gov/treasury

Volunteer or call firefighters: Spouse receives an accidental death benefit allowance annually equal to the greater of the following: two-thirds of a first year member of that department if there are career members, or two-thirds of what the firefighter received in regular compensation for the preceding 12-month period.

Death must have resulted while in the performance of duties and as the result of an accident or of undergoing a hazard particular to firefighting, within the scope of duties.


EDUCATION BENEFIT – CHILDREN

The Massachusetts Public Service Grant Program is for the children of fallen firefighters who are killed or died from injuries received while performing their duties, including authorized training duty. Established for students attending a Massachusetts public college or university, the award is equal to the cost of the institution’s full-time annual tuition. For a student attending a Massachusetts independent college or university, the amount shall be equal to the full-time annual tuition charge at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, not to exceed $2,500 per year. Curriculum fees, books, and other expenses are not covered. Limited to four years for students in good standing. Student must have graduated from high school in the Commonwealth, and must be taking at least 12 credits (or its equivalent) worth of classes. Must apply yearly for renewal.

Contact:
Office of Student Financial Assistance
Massachusetts Board of Higher Education
454 Broadway, Suite 200
Revere, MA 02151
Phone: (617) 391-6070
Fax: (617) 727-0667
E-mail: osfa@osfa.mass.edu
Website: www.osfa.mass.edu

(Reference: Public Service Grant Program; Massachusetts General Laws 64. Section 7E)

EDUCATION BENEFIT – SPOUSE

Same as for children.

Contact:
Office of Student Financial Assistance
Massachusetts Board of Higher Education
454 Broadway, Suite 200
Revere, MA 02151
Phone: (617) 391-6070
Fax: (617) 727-0667
E-mail: osfa@osfa.mass.edu
Website: www.osfa.mass.edu

(Reference: Public Service Grant Program; Massachusetts General Laws 64. Section 7E)

REAL ESTATE BENEFIT

Spouse and minor surviving children exempt from real estate taxes. Must give the assessor a letter before the next tax bill with all of the pertinent information. This includes a letter from the Chief of the fallen firefighter’s department stating the date and cause of the line-of-duty death. A death certificate may also be required.

Contact:
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Department of Revenue
P.O. Box 7010
Boston, MA 02204
Phone: (617) 887-MDOR or (800) 392-6089
Website: www.mass.gov

(Reference: Exemption Reimbursement Program/Department of Revenue)

NON-PROFIT OR PRIVATE ORGANIZATIONS

Provides scholarships for spouses and children of firefighters who die in the line of duty, on the way to, during and returning from a fire. Club also has a number of ongoing programs for survivors.

Contact:
100 Club of Massachusetts
17 Gloucester St.
Boston, MA 02115
Phone: (617) 536-4410
Fax: (617)536-9876
Website: 100clubmass.org

Woodmen of the World will pay a $10,000 fraternal death benefit if a qualified member is killed while performing his or her duties as a non-military first responder. To be eligible for this benefit, an individual must be a member in good standing of one of our other benefits.

First Responders include firefighters, EMT/paramedics, police or a person performing a supporting role to such individuals.

Contact:
Woodmen of the World
Woodmen Tower
1700 Farnham St
Omaha, NE 68102
Phone: (800) 225-3108
Website: www.woodmen.org


COUNTY & LOCAL JURISDICTION BENEFITS


 

Disclaimer: The material contained in the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation Survivor Benefits website is not the result of legal research, but rather is based on a scan of public documents. We have made every effort to be accurate and timely, but errors may exist. The material on this website is advisory only and should not be cited as evidence or proof that a benefit exists or that our facts are accurate. Always consult the decedent’s fire department for benefits assistance, or a benefits’ attorney. If, in the course of your own research, you see errors of fact, or new benefit information, please pass this information along to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.