Montana Survivor Benefits

Updated November 2018

ONE-TIME DEATH BENEFIT

As of November 2018, Montana has no one-time death benefit for its firefighters.


WORKERS’ COMPENSATION

Spouses and dependent children may receive weekly compensation benefits at a rate of 66 2/3% of the decedent’s wages. The maximum weekly compensation benefit may not exceed the state’s average weekly wage at the time of injury. The minimum weekly compensation benefit is 50% of the state’s average weekly wage, but in no event may it exceed the decedent’s actual wages at the time of death.

The spouse receives benefits for 500 weeks (approximately 9 years, 8 months) or until remarried. Unmarried children receive benefits until age 18, or age 22 if attending an accredited school or apprenticeship program. If the decedent leaves neither a spouse nor dependent children, other dependents such as parents or siblings may be eligible for weekly benefits at a rate proportional to their level of dependency. If there are no such dependents, a lump-sum payment of $3,000 must be paid to the decedent’s surviving parent or parents.

Contact:

Employment Relations Division
Montana Department of Labor and Industry

1805 Prospect Ave.
P.O. Box 8011
Helena, MT 59604-8011
Phone: (406) 444-0532
Fax: (406) 444-1394
Website: www.dli.mt.gov
E-mail: dliquestions@mt.gov

(Reference: MCA Sections 39-71-118, 39-71-721)

FUNERAL BENEFIT

Montana’s Workers’ Compensation will pay funeral expenses of up to $4,000.

Contact:

Employment Relations Division
Montana Department of Labor and Industry

1805 Prospect Ave.
P.O. Box 8011
Helena, MT 59604-8011
Phone: (406) 444-0532
Fax: (406) 444-1394
Website: www.dli.mt.gov
E-mail: dliquestions@mt.gov

(Reference: MCA Section 39-71-725)

For Volunteer Firefighters, the Montana Public Employee Retirement Administration will pay reasonable expenses or $1,500, whichever is less, to the appropriate provider of the funeral services or the claimant if they provide documentation of the full payment of the funeral expenses.

Contact:

Public Employee Retirement Administration
100 N Park Avenue, Suite 200
Helena, MT 59620-0131
Phone: (406) 444-3154
Toll Free: (877) 275-7372
Fax: (406) 444-5428
E-mail: mpera@mt.gov
Website: https://mpera.mt.gov/

(Reference: MCA Section 19-17-503)

RETIREMENT/PENSION PLAN

Call/Volunteer Firefighters: For volunteer firefighters who have served for 20 or more years, the spouse or dependent children will be paid $175, plus an additional $7.50 per month for each additional year of service, per month.

For volunteer firefighters who have served for fewer than 20 years but more than 10 years, the spouse or dependent children will be paid 5% of $175 for each year of service, per month.

These benefits terminate after 40 months of payments.

The beneficiary is able to receive this benefit as one lump-sum payment, if desired.

Career Firefighters: For a firefighter with less than 20 years service, the Firefighters’ Unified Retirement System (FURS) will pay a firefighter’s spouse one half of the firefighter’s Highest Average Compensation for the rest of the beneficiary’s life.

For a firefighter with more than 20 years service, FURS will pay a firefighter’s spouse the full benefit amount to which the firefighter was entitled on the date of their death. See the FURS website for information on calculating this amount.

If the firefighter leaves one or more dependent children but no spouse, the dependent children will split this benefit equally so long as each is still considered a dependent.

This benefit is adjusted yearly either by a set percentage of 3% or based on the monthly salary of a newly confirmed, full-time firefighter. Which method is used is based on tenure and an elective choice from the firefighter.

Highest Average Compensation is defined as the monthly compensation of a member averaged over the highest consecutive 36 months of membership service.

If your city or town has formed its own firefighter retirement association (per MCA Chapter 19.18), please contact your local government or fire department for specifics on benefits.

Contact:

Public Employee’s Retirement Administration (PERA)
100 N Park Avenue, Suite 200
Helena, MT 59620-0131
Phone: (406)444-3154
Toll Free: (877) 275-7372
Fax: (406) 444-5428
Website: mpera.mt.gov
E-mail: mpera@mt.gov

(Reference: MCA Sections 19-13-902, 19-13-1010, 19-13-1017 [career] & Section 19-17-405, 19-17-404 [volunteer])

EDUCATION BENEFIT – CHILDREN

At campuses of the Montana University System, tuition is waved for all children of fallen Montana firefighters.

Contact:

Office of Commissioner of Higher
Education / Montana University System

560 N. Park, 4th Floor
P.O. Box 203201
Helena, MT 59620-3201
Phone: (406) 449-9124
Fax: (406) 449-9171
Website: www.mus.edu


EDUCATION BENEFIT – SPOUSE

Education benefits are identical for a spouse.

Contact:

Office of Commissioner of Higher
Education / Montana University System

560 N. Park, 4th Floor
P.O. Box 203201
Helena, MT 59620-3201
Phone: (406) 449-9124
Fax: (406) 449-9171
Website: www.mus.edu

(Reference: MCA Section 20-25-421 & MT Board of Regents of Higher Education, Policy 940.13)

NON-PROFIT OR PRIVATE ORGANIZATIONS

Montana State Firemen’s Association

Attn: Blaine Cowan, Secretary/Treasurer
P.O. Box 1417
Lolo, MT 59847-1417
Phone: (406) 370-0483 (Cell)
Email: bcowan81@gmail.com
Website: http://www.mscopff.org

The MSFA offers a noncontributory Life Insurance Policy for its members. Benefits include up to: $100,000 life insurance for the insured, $100,000 AD&D, $25,000 life insurance for dependents, $50,000 LODD, $5000 repatriation, $10,000 for career adjustment, $10,000 for child care, $20,000 for higher education, and more.

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.


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.


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.