Texas Survivor Benefits

Updated December 2018

ONE-TIME DEATH BENEFIT

A one-time payment of $500,000 shall be awarded to a surviving spouse, child or children, or parent or parents, in that order. In addition, the legal guardian of any minor children will be paid a monthly stipend until the children reach 18 years of age. This stipend shall be $400 for one minor child, $600 for two children, and $800 for three or more children.

Contact:

Employees Retirement System of Texas
200 E. 18th St
Austin, TX 78701
Phone: (877) 275-4377
Fax: (512) 867-7438
Website: ers.texas.gov
E-mail: Contact Form

(Reference:Texas Government Code Sec. 615.022, 615.023)

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION

The amount of a death benefit is equal to 75% of the employee’s average weekly wage, up to the state average weekly wage rounded to the next dollar. For 1 October 2018 to 30 September 2019, the state average weekly wage is $937.70, making the maximum benefit available in the case of death $938 per week. This benefit shall be split equally between a surviving spouse and all dependent children. Dependent grandchildren are included with dependent children unless the grandchild’s parent is eligible for the benefit. If the deceased leaves no spouse, child, or grandchild, any other dependent relatives shall split this benefit equally. If there are no dependents, the deceased’s parents shall receive this benefit.

Spouses are eligible for this benefit for life. Children are eligible until age 18, or 25 if a full-time student, or while they have a physical or mental disability preventing them from being self-supporting. Grandchildren are eligible until age 18 or if already over that age for 364 weeks (7 years). Other dependents are eligible for up to 364 weeks as well. Non-dependent parents are eligible for 104 weeks (2 years).

Contact:

Division of Workers’ Compensation Central Office
7551 Metro Center Drive, Suite 100
Austin, TX 78744-1645
Phone: (800) 252-7031 Option 1
Website: www.tdi.texas.gov/wc/employee/

(Reference: Texas Labor Code Sec. 408.061, 408.181, 408.182, 408.183)

COMPENSATION FOR DEATH OR DISABILITY OF FIREFIGHTERS FROM OCCUPATIONAL DISEASES

Tuberculosis, or any other disease or illness of the lungs or respiratory tract that has a statistically positive correlation with service as a firefighter, is presumed to be contracted in the course of their employment.

A firefighter who suffers an acute myocardial infarction or stroke resulting in disability or death is presumed to have suffered the disability or death during the course and scope of employment if at the time the infarction or stroke occurred they were participating in strenuous emergency response activity or training.

A firefighter who suffers from cancer that may be caused by exposure to heat, smoke, radiation, or a known or suspected carcinogen as determined by the International Agency for Research on Cancer is presumed to have developed the cancer during their employment as a firefighter. The firefighter must have regularly responded to events involving the documented release of radiation or a known or suspected carcinogen.

The deceased must have been employed for five or more years as a firefighter and/or emergency medical technician for these presumptions to apply. They must also have received a physical examination that failed to reveal evidence of the illness or disease for which benefits or compensation is sought.

These presumptions do not apply if the firefighter is or has been a user of tobacco or if their spouse has, during the marriage, been a user of tobacco that is consumed through smoking.

(Reference:Texas Government Code Sec. 607.052, 607.054, 607.055, 607.056)

FUNERAL BENEFIT

The workers’ compensation insurance carrier shall pay the actual costs incurred for reasonable burial expenses, not to exceed $10,000 to the person who incurred liability for the costs of burial.

Contact:

Division of Workers’ Compensation Central Office
7551 Metro Center Drive, Suite 100
Austin, TX 78744-1645
Phone: (800) 252-7031 Option 1
Website: www.tdi.texas.gov/wc/employee/

(Reference: Texas Labor Code Sec. 408.186)

RETIREMENT/PENSION PLAN


The Texas Emergency Services Retirement System covers firefighters as well as other rescue and emergency medical services personnel. Should a firefighter enrolled in this System die in the line of duty, the beneficiaries listed on the member’s enrollment form receive a lump-sum payment of $60,000.

The spouse and any minor children share a monthly pension equal to the service retirement that the deceased would have been entitled to receive. If the firefighter had 15 years of service or less, this pension is calculated as if they had served for 15 years. As long as both the spouse and one or more dependents remain eligible, an additional one-third of the monthly retirement annuity shall be paid to the dependents in equal shares.
Children are eligible dependents until the age of 18, or 19 if still enrolled in elementary or secondary school. Should a child become disabled before their 22nd birthday, they shall remain a dependent as long as the disability lasts.

Contact:

Texas Emergency Services Retirement System
P.O. Box 12577
Austin, TX 78711
Phone: (512) 936-3372
Fax: (512) 936-3480
Website: https://www.tesrs.com/

The Texas Local Fire Fighters Retirement Act (TLFFRA) allows for paid and part-paid fire departments and volunteer fire departments in participating cities to administer their own local retirement systems instead of participating in the Texas Emergency Services Retirement System or another system. The board of trustees for each local retirement system is able to set the death benefits payable for their paid and volunteer firefighters. Please contact your fire department or local retirement system for specific benefit questions, or the Texas Pension Review Board with general questions.

Contact:

Texas Pension Review Board
William P. Clements Building
Attn: Joey Evans, TLFFRA Program Specialist
300 West 15th Street, Suite 406
Austin, TX 78701
Phone: (512) 463-8814
Website: www.prb.state.tx.us
E-mail: joey.evans@prb.state.tx.us

(Reference: Texas Government Code Sec. 864.006, Vernon’s Civil Statutes, Art. 6243e, Sec. 15)

EDUCATION BENEFIT – CHILDREN

Children who were under the age of 18 when their parent died in the line of duty as a paid or volunteer firefighter shall be exempt from tuition and fees at any Texas public college or university for full-time study. The institution shall also pay for the student’s textbooks. If the child elects to live in campus housing, the institution shall pay for their room and board. This benefit is available until the child completes a bachelor’s degree or 200 hours of course credit, whichever occurs first.

(Reference: Texas Education Code Article 54.354)

EDUCATION BENEFIT – SPOUSE

Spouses are eligible for the same benefit as children with the age restriction removed.
Contact the registrar’s office at the Texas public college or university you are or will be attending for information on claiming this exemption.

(Reference: Texas Education Code Sec. 54.354)

NON-PROFIT OR PRIVATE ORGANIZATIONS

100 Clubs of Texas

In the state of Texas there are multiple “100 Clubs”, organizations focused on providing financial assistance to the families of disabled or fallen police officers and firefighters. Each focuses primarily on a different geographical area. Some are listed below.

The 100 Club, Inc. (Centered in Houston): the100club.org
The 100 Club of Central Texas: 100clubcentex.com
The 100 Club of Heart of Texas: www.mclennan100club.org

Kids’ Chance of Texas

P.O. Box 30111
Austin, TX 78731
Phone: (888) 404-5289
Website: www.kidschanceoftexas.org
E-mail: information@kidschanceoftexas.org

Kids’ Chance of Texas offers scholarships to students with a parent who has been seriously or fatally injured in a workplace accident in the state of Texas. The applicant must be aged 16-25. Applicant must be enrolled as a full-time student at a college, university, technical, or trade school. The scholarships vary in amount based on demonstrated need and available funds.

Texas State Association of Fire Fighters

627 Radam Lane
Austin, TX 78745
Phone: (512) 326-5050
Fax: (512) 326-5040
Website: www.tsaff.org
E-mail: Contact Form

Texas State Association of Fire Fighters, through the Texas Fire Fighters Emergency Relief and Scholarship Fund, offers financial relief and scholarships to the families of fallen firefighters. The firefighter does not need to be a member of the TSAFF for their dependents to be eligible for these funds. The Fund awards up to $1,000 for Emergency Relief, and scholarships to students entering their first year of study at an accredited university, or junior or senior college, as a full-time student under the age of 24.

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

A surviving spouse of a deceased firefighter who is employed by the state or a political subdivision of the state is entitled to purchase or continue to purchase health insurance benefits from the state or political subdivision that employed the deceased. The surviving spouse is entitled to purchase or continue to purchase health insurance coverage until the date the surviving spouse becomes eligible for federal Medicare benefits. Dependent children are also able to purchase these health insurance benefits until they become eligible for group health insurance through another employer or become eligible for federal Medicare benefits.
An eligible survivor may elect to purchase or continue to purchase coverage at any level of benefits currently offered by the employing entity to dependents of an active employee.
If this applies, the employer should reach out to the family of the deceased no less than 10 days from the date of death. If they do not, please contact the employer and inquire about this benefit.

(Reference: Texas Government Code Sec. 615.073, 615.074, 615.075, 615.076

TAX ABATEMENT

The surviving spouse of a firefighter, paid or volunteer, who is killed or fatally injured in the line of duty is entitled to an exemption from taxation of the total appraised value of the surviving spouse’s residence homestead if the surviving spouse has not remarried since the death of the first responder.

Contact:

Comptroller of Public Accounts
Property Tax Assistance Division

Central Services Building
1711 San Jacinto, Third Floor
Austin, TX 78701
Phone: (512) 305-9999
Website: comptroller.texas.gov
E-mail: ptad.cpa@cpa.texas.gov

(Reference: Texas Tax Code Sec. 11.134)

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.