Massachusetts Survivor Benefits

Updated October 2018

ONE-TIME DEATH BENEFIT

A one-time payment of $300,000 shall be awarded to the family (Spouse, Children, or Parents) of a deceased Firefighter who died due to incident, accident, or violence while in the performance of their duties. This applies to any career, call, volunteer, auxiliary, intermittent or reserve firefighter. This benefit shall not be taxable by the commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Contact:

State Board of Retirement
One Winter Street, 8th Floor
Boston, MA 02108

OR

436 Dwight Street, Room 109A
Springfield, MA 01103
Phone: (617) 367-7770 (Boston) or (413) 730-6135 (Springfield)
Website: www.mass.gov
E-mail: [email protected]

(Reference: Massachusetts’ General Law Part I, Title IV, Chapter 32, Section 100; and Bill H.3448)

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION

To receive workers’ compensation benefits the surviving dependent(s) must take the initiative and file a workers’ compensation claim.
In the state of Massachusetts, all employees are entitled to worker’s compensation benefits in the event of a work related death. For a spouse, the benefit is 2/3rds of employee’s wages. If the deceased has any children from a previous marriage, this benefit is split equally among the current spouse and those children. The spouse continues to receive this benefit as long as the spouse is still a dependent and not remarried. If the spouse remarries, their children will continue to receive $60 a week while still dependents.

If the deceased has no surviving spouse, or the surviving spouse dies while receiving benefits, their children share two-thirds of the deceased worker’s weekly wages. Payments can also go to the deceased’s parents or other dependents.

The weekly payments under this benefit are not to exceed the State’s Average Weekly Wage in effect at time of injury. As of 1 October 2018, the State’s Average Weekly Wage is $1,383.41.

Surviving spouses become eligible for yearly cost-of-living-adjustments two years after the date of the injury or illness. Children are eligible only if they are under age 18, are full-time students, or are unable to work because of physical or mental disabilities.

The total maximum payable amount may not exceed 250 times the State’s Average Weekly Wage in effect at time of injury.

Workers’ compensation must also pay the reasonable costs of burial, up to eight times the State’s Average Weekly Wage.

Contact:

Department of Industrial Accidents
1 Congress St., Suite 100
Boston, MA 02114
Phone: (617) 727-4900 (main line)
MA Toll Free: (800) 323-3249 or (800) 224-6196 (TDD)
Website: www.mass.gov/orgs/department-of-industrial-accidents
E-mail: [email protected]

(Reference: Massachusetts’ General Law Part I, Title XXI, Chapter 152, Section 31)

COMPENSATION FOR DEATH OR DISABILITY OF FIREFIGHTERS FROM OCCUPATIONAL DISEASES

Any condition of impairment of health caused by hypertension or heart disease, any disease of the lungs or respiratory tract, or any condition of cancer affecting the skin or the central nervous, lymphatic, digestive, hematological, urinary, skeletal, oral or prostate systems, lung or respiratory tract, resulting in death to a uniformed member of a paid fire department, shall, if they successfully passed a physical examination which failed to reveal any evidence of such condition, be presumed to have been suffered in the line of duty, unless the contrary be shown by competent evidence.

For the above forms of cancer, this shall apply only if the disabling or fatal condition is a type of cancer which may, in general, result from exposure to heat, radiation, or a known or suspected carcinogen as determined by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, or for any condition of cancer found by regulation by the commissioner of the department of public health to have a statistically significant correlation with fire service.

This does not apply to firefighters serving in such positions for fewer than five years at the time that such condition is first discovered, or should have been discovered, or persons discovering such conditions more than five years after actively serving in that role.
These presumptions do not apply to volunteer firefighters.

(Reference: Massachusetts’ General Law Part I, Title IV, Chapter 32, Sections 94, 94A, and 94B)

FUNERAL BENEFIT

Any city operating under a Plan D or Plan E charter, by the affirmative vote of a majority of its city council or any other city, by a majority vote of its city council with the approval of its mayor, and any town, by a majority vote at an annual or special town meeting, shall pay the reasonable expense, not exceeding $15,000, of the funeral and burial of any firefighter while in the performance of their duty is killed or sustains injuries which result in their death.

Any such city may also vote, in the same manner, to have the reasonable expense not to exceed $2000. Please check with your local city government to determine the specific benefits in your area.

Worker’s Compensation in the state of Massachusetts is required to give burial benefits. See the Worker’s Compensation section for information.

Contact:

State Board of Retirement
One Winter Street, 8th Floor
Boston, MA 02108

OR

436 Dwight Street, Room 109A
Springfield, MA 01103
Phone: (617) 367-7770 (Boston) or (413) 730-6135 (Springfield)
Website: www.mass.gov
E-mail: [email protected]


RETIREMENT/PENSION PLAN

Volunteer Firefighters:

The city, town, or district shall provide one of the following:

A one-time $500,000 life insurance policy;

Lifetime annuity payments of no less than 2/3rds and no more than 100% of a full time, first year firefighter salary for that city, town, or district. If there are no full time firefighters in that city, town, or district, no less than 2/3 and no more tan 100% of the average first year salary for a full time firefighter as determined by a survey of 3 surrounding cities, towns or districts. The annuity payments will be adjusted annually in response to cost of living increases; or,

Lifetime insurance policy which pays an annuity of no less than 2/3 and no more than 100% of the annual rate of a first year firefighter salary, to be paid to surviving spouse. If there are no full time firefighters in that city, town, or district, no less than 2/3 and no more than 100% of the average first year salary for a full time firefighter as determined by a survey of 3 surrounding cities, towns or districts (as determined by PERAC).

If the firefighter has no spouse, or the spouse passes while receiving annuity payments, payments will be made to dependent children.

Career Firefighters:
A pension shall be paid to the firefighter’s spouse annually. The amount shall be equal to the maximum salary which would have been paid to such firefighter had they continued in service in the position held at the time of death.

In the event of the death of the eligible spouse leaving any children of the deceased firefighter, the legal guardian of the children will be paid 72% of the pension, plus an additional $312 dollars, yearly until all children are no longer considered dependents.

Contact:

State Board of Retirement
One Winter Street, 8th Floor
Boston, MA 02108

OR

436 Dwight Street, Room 109A
Springfield, MA 01103
Phone: (617) 367-7770 (Boston) or (413) 730-6135 (Springfield)
Website: www.mass.gov
E-mail: [email protected]

(Reference: Massachusetts’ General Law Part I, Title IV, Chapter 32, Sections 89E, 100)

EDUCATION BENEFIT – CHILDREN

This benefit is for children of fallen firefighters, both Career and Call/Volunteer who are permanent residents of Massachusetts and are enrolled full time in an eligible institution for a certificate, associate’s, or bachelor’s degree. The student cannot have previously earned a bachelor’s degree and must be in good academic standing with the institution, in compliance with the Selective Service Registration, and not be in default for other state or federal student loans.

An eligible institution is any public or independent college or university in Massachusetts accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and is authorized by the Commonwealth to offer undergraduate degree programs.

For a student attending a Massachusetts public college or university, the award shall be equal to the cost of the institution’s full time annual tuition charges.

For a student attending a Massachusetts Independent College or University, the award shall be equal to the full time annual tuition charge at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Contact:

Office of Student Financial Assistance Massachusetts Board of Higher Education
454 Broadway, Suite 200
Revere, Massachusetts 02151
Phone: (617) 391-6070
Fax: (617) 391-6085
E-mail: [email protected]
Website: www.mass.edu/osfa


EDUCATION BENEFIT – SPOUSE

The benefits for a widowed spouse are identical to those for a child.

Contact:

Office of Student Financial Assistance Massachusetts Board of Higher Education
454 Broadway, Suite 200
Revere, Massachusetts 02151
Phone: (617) 391-6070
Fax: (617) 391-6085
E-mail: [email protected]
Website: www.mass.edu/osfa

(Reference: Massachusetts’ General Law Part I, Title II, Chapter 15A, Section 16)

NON-PROFIT OR PRIVATE ORGANIZATIONS

The Hundred Club of Mass., Inc.

17 Gloucester Street
Boston, MA 02115
Phone: (617) 536-4410
Fax: (617)536-9876
E-mail: [email protected]
Website: 100clubmass.org

The Hundred Club of Mass., Inc., provides benefits to a surviving spouse and/or children of a fallen firefighter including: a $10,000 check for immediate financial assistance to the spouse and a check for $2,000 to each minor child, financial assistance for colleges, universities, trade or vocational schools to any children of the deceased, financial assistance towards counseling for a surviving spouse and children up to $2,000 per person, payment for 2-weeks of Summer Enrichment Programs/Camp for children each year between the ages 5-17, as well as social events and other gifts.

Massachusetts Call/Volunteer Firefighters Association

Phone: (800) 551-3473
E-mail: [email protected]
Website: www.mcvfa.org
If the firefighter is a member of the Massachusetts Call/Volunteer Firefighters Association (MCVFA), their family is eligible for a $1000 benefit from the MCFVA. Non-member call/volunteer firefighters are eligible for a $500 benefit, while career firefighters and out-of-state firefighters may be eligible for a $500 benefit at the discretion of the Chaplain/Executive Board of the MCFVA.

The International Association of Fire Fighters

1750 New York Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006
Website: client.prod.iaff.org/#contentid=1743

The W. H. “Howie” McClennan scholarship provides financial assistance for sons, daughters or legally adopted children of IAFF Union Members killed in the line of duty planning to attend a university, accredited college or other institution of higher learning. Scholarship amount is $2,500 per year, renewable up to 4 consecutive years.


HEALTH INSURANCE

Health Insurance benefits vary by county, city, town or district, and may vary between volunteer and career firefighters. Spouses and children may be eligible to continue group hospital, surgical, medical, dental and other health insurance and only be responsible for paying a set portion of the insurance premium.

Contact:

Massachusetts Department of Insurance
1000 Washington Street, Suite 810
Boston, MA 02118
Phone: (617) 521-7794
Toll Free: (877) 563-4467
E-mail: [email protected]
Website: www.mass.gov/orgs/division-of-insurance

(Reference: Massachusetts’ General Law Part I, Title IV, Chapter 32B, Sections 9, 9B, 9C, 9C1/2, 9D, 9D1/2, 9D3/4)

TAX ABATEMENT

Real estate of the surviving spouse, until remarried and minor children, both biological and adopted, is exempt from taxation provided that such real estate is owned and occupied as a domicile. Notice must be given to the Tax Assessor before the next tax bill is due and provide the Assessor with all relevant information, including a letter from the Fire Chief stating the date and cause of the line of duty death and in some cases, provide a copy of the death certificate.

Contact:

Massachusetts Department of Revenue
100 Cambridge Street, 2nd floor
Boston, MA, 02114
Phone: (617) 887-6367
Fax: (617) 391-6085
Website: https://www.mass.gov/orgs/massachusetts-department-of-revenue
Contact Us Form

(Massachusetts’ General Law Part I, Title IX, Chapter 59, Section 5, clauses 42 & 43)

FUNERAL & CREMATION BENEFITS

Dignity Memorial

Phone: (800) 343-4464
Website: www.dignitymemorial.com

Dignity Memorial is a consortium of funeral, cremation and cemetery providers across the United States and Canada. They have a Public Servants Program for first responders and emergency services workers. Dignity provides these services, at no cost, for career and volunteer firefighters who are killed in the line of duty. There is a location finder per state on the website, and funeral directors are encouraged to contact Dignity regarding the first responder program.

Wilbert Funeral Services, Inc.

2913 Gardner Road
Broadview, IL 50155
Phone: 708-681-7040 (Terry Whitlock)
Website: www.wilbert.com

Wilbert provides complimentary burial vaults (including urns vaults) for fallen law enforcement officers and firefighters through 193 licensee locations. Funeral directors should contact Wilbert for information on obtaining vaults.


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.