Updated November 2018
ONE-TIME DEATH BENEFIT
A one-time payment of $10,000 shall be paid to the spouse or designated beneficiary when a career or volunteer firefighter dies in the line of duty. Death from a heart attack or stroke is deemed to be a line of duty death if it occurs within 48 hours of an emergency response or training event. This payment must be requested through the North Dakota Insurance Department, see the website for the form.
North Dakota Insurance Department
600 E. Boulevard Avenue
Bismarck, ND 58505-0320
Phone: (701) 328-2440
Toll Free: (800) 247-0560
Fax: (701) 328-4880
If an injury causes death, the workforce safety and insurance fund shall pay to the surviving spouse, or legal guardian of the dependent children, a weekly benefit equal to 66-2/3% of the gross weekly wage of the firefighter, subject to a minimum of 60% and a maximum of 125% of the average weekly wage in the state. This benefit lasts for the rest of the spouse’s life. If there is no spouse but there are dependent children, the legal guardian of the children shall receive this weekly benefit until all children are no longer dependent. Children are dependent while unmarried and under 18 years old, or under 22 and a full time student, or physically or mentally incapable of self-support.
As of 1 July 2018, the State Average Weekly Wage is $960, making the weekly minimum and maximum payable as described above $576 and $1,200, respectively.
In addition to the above, the spouse or guardian will receive a one-time payment of $2,500, plus $800 per dependent child. Each child will receive an additional $15 per week for the length of dependency.
Total death benefits, including supplementary benefits, paid on any one Workers’ Compensation claim may not exceed $300,000 over the lifetime of the claim.
Per North Dakota law, volunteer firefighters are employees of the municipalities which they serve and are entitled to the same protection and rights under the provisions of Workforce Safety and Insurance law as are full-time paid employees of those municipalities. The average weekly wage of a volunteer firefighter shall be determined from a computation of income derived from the claimant’s primary business or employment.
Workforce Safety and Insurance also pays all medical bills directly related to the compensable injury and death, if applicable.
Workforce Safety & Insurance (Workers’ Compensation)
1600 East Century Avenue
Bismarck, ND 58503-0644
Phone: (701) 328-3800
Toll Free: (800) 777-5033
COMPENSATION FOR DEATH OR DISABILITY OF FIREFIGHTERS FROM OCCUPATIONAL DISEASES
Firefighters must have completed at least 5 years of continuous, full-time service as a paid firefighter and have passed their most recent periodic medical examination.
Any condition or impairment of health of a full-time paid firefighter caused by lung or respiratory disease, hypertension, heart disease, or an exposure to a blood borne occurring in the course of employment, or occupational cancer, is presumed to have been suffered in the line of duty. The presumption may be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence the condition or impairment is not work-related.
An occupational cancer is one which arises out of employment as a full-time paid firefighter and is due to injury due to exposure to smoke, fumes, or carcinogenic, poisonous, toxic, or chemical substances while in the performance of active duty as a full-time paid firefighter.
For firefighters who served 10 years or less, these presumptions shall be valid for up to 2 years from the end of their employment. For firefighters who served more than 10 years, these presumptions shall be valid for up to 5 years from the end of their employment.
The workforce safety and insurance fund shall pay up to $10,000 in burial expenses.
Effective 1 August 2017 firefighters employed by participating political subdivisions became eligible for the Public Safety Retirement Plan, previously known as the Law Enforcement retirement plan.
For members of this plan, if the firefighter was not vested in the defined benefit plan at the time of death or if the firefighter was vested and unmarried, the member account balance will be paid in a single lump sum payment to the indicated beneficiaries.
If the firefighter was vested in the defined benefit plan, the surviving spouse or other designated beneficiary will be able to choose between either receiving a single lump sum payment of the member account balance, or monthly payments of 50% of the Single Life Retirement Benefit for the beneficiary’s lifetime. If the firefighter had already reached their normal retirement date prior to death, the beneficiary has a third option of monthly payments in an amount equal to the accrued 100% Joint and Survivor retirement benefit.
If the beneficiary elects to receive one of the monthly benefits, they may be eligible to participate in the North Dakota Public Employees Retirement System (NDPERS) group vision, dental, and long-term care insurance plans, and make use of any retiree health insurance credits earned by the firefighter.
EDUCATION BENEFIT – CHILDREN
Biological, adopted, and step children who were under the age of 21 at the time of the firefighter’s death are eligible for this benefit.
Upon being accepted into any undergraduate degree or certificate program of a North Dakota state institution of higher education, the child must be allowed to obtain a bachelor’s degree or certificate of completion free of any tuition and fee charges.
The bachelor’s degree or certificate of completion must be earned within a 45 month or 10 semester period or its equivalent. Tuition and fee charges may not include costs for aviation flight charges or expenses.
EDUCATION BENEFIT – SPOUSE
There is no age requirement for a surviving spouse, but otherwise the education benefit is identical for a surviving spouse.
There is no central authority for this education benefit; each institution is charged with implementing this benefit for their campus. Please contact the Financial Aid office at the North Dakota University System campus you plan to attend or are currently attending, or:
In addition to the above, North Dakota Workforce Safety & Insurance may grant scholarships to the surviving spouse or children. The scholarships are paid directly to the school and include tuition, books, and fees at an accredited college or an institution of technical education. The maximum amount payable is $10,000 per year for no more than 5 years. See Retraining Assistance or the Workers’ Compensation section above for contact information.
NON-PROFIT OR PRIVATE ORGANIZATIONS
North Dakota law allows for local firefighters’ relief associations to be organized and provides guidelines for their procedure. Please check with your local government and fire department to see if this applies.
The International Association of Fire Fighters
1750 New York Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006
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.
If the surviving spouse is eligible to receive a monthly benefit from the North Dakota Public Employees Retirement System (NDPERS), they may be eligible to participate in the group vision, dental, health, and long-term care insurance plans NDPERS offers, as well as make use of any retiree health insurance credits earned by the firefighter for as long as they are receiving this monthly benefit.
North Dakota Public Employees Retirement System
400 East Broadway Avenue, Suite 505
Bismarck, ND 58502-1657
Phone: (701) 328-3900
Toll-Free: (800) 803-7377
North Dakota does not have a state wide tax abatement benefit for the families of fallen firefighters.
FUNERAL & CREMATION BENEFITS
Phone: (800) 343-4464
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)
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.