Utah Survivor Benefits

Updated December 2018

ONE-TIME DEATH BENEFIT

A one-time payment equal to six months of the active member’s final average salary shall be paid to a surviving spouse or split equally among dependent children. For a volunteer firefighter, the lowest monthly compensation of firefighters of a city of the first class in the state at the time of death shall be considered to be their final average monthly salary.

Employees of the state may also receive the proceeds of a $50,000 group term life insurance policy.

Contact:

Retirement Benefits Department
Utah Retirement Systems

Salt Lake City Office
560 East 200 South, Suite 240
Salt Lake City, UT 84102-2021
Phone: (801) 366-7700 (Salt Lake City)
Fax: (801) 366-7733
Website: https://www.urs.org/Members/index

(Reference: Utah Code Sections 49-16-501, 49-16-502, 49-16-701, 49-20-406)

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION

Weekly compensation paid to the dependents is 66-2/3% of the firefighter’s average gross weekly wage on the date of the accident causing death or when the occupational disease began, plus an additional $20 per week for a dependent spouse and each dependent minor child up to 4 children. This payment is limited up to a maximum of 85% of the state’s average weekly wage. For 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019, the state average weekly wage is $879, making the maximum payment for this time period $747.

The dependents shall receive this benefit for a period of 312 weeks (6 years). If the spouse remarries, they will receive 52 weeks of this compensation in a lump sum, or the remaining balance of the award, whichever is less.

A spouse is presumed to be a dependent, as are any minor children, or mentally or physically incapacitated children. Other family members may be considered dependents based on the particular facts. All dependents split this benefit equally.

Contact:

Utah Labor Commission
Industrial Accidents Division

160 East 300 South, 3rd Floor
Salt Lake City, UT, 84114-6610
Phone: (801) 530-6800
Fax: (801) 530-6804
Website: laborcommission.utah.gov
E-mail: iaccd@utah.gov

(Reference: Utah Code Sections 34A-2-414, 34A-2-702)

COMPENSATION FOR DEATH OR DISABILITY OF FIREFIGHTERS FROM OCCUPATIONAL DISEASES

Pharynx cancer, esophagus cancer, lung cancer, and mesothelioma are all occupational diseases presumed to have been suffered in the line of duty for firefighters, paid or volunteer, with 8 or more years employment. The firefighter must undergo yearly physical examinations and not have used tobacco for the eight years preceding reporting the cancer.

A paid firefighter who has five years of firefighter service credit is eligible for a line-of-duty disability benefit resulting from heart disease, lung disease, or a respiratory tract condition.

(Reference: Utah Code Sections 34A-3-113, 49-16-601.5)

FUNERAL BENEFIT

Burial Expenses shall be paid by the employer or their insurance carrier up to $9,000. Unusual cases may result in additional payments either voluntarily by the employer or their carrier or by Commission order.

Contact:

Utah Labor Commission
Industrial Accidents Division

160 East 300 South, 3rd Floor
Salt Lake City, UT, 84114-6610
Phone: (801) 530-6800
Fax: (801) 530-6804
Website: laborcommission.utah.gov
E-mail: iaccd@utah.gov

(Reference: Utah Code Sections 34A-2-418, U.C.A. Rule R612-200-6)

RETIREMENT/PENSION PLAN

Career Firefighters

There are multiple plans and tiers for retirement benefits for firefighters. The most common are outlined below.

Firefighters who were employed full time prior to 1 July 2011 are eligible to be Tier 1 members of the Firefighters’ Retirement System. Spouses of Tier 1 members with less than 20 years service receive a monthly benefit of 30% of the final average monthly salary. If the firefighter did not have on-the-job Social Security coverage, this is increased to 37.5%, plus $75 per dependent child if the firefighter had more than 5 (but still less than 20) years of service. For firefighters with more than 20 years service, the spouse shall receive 75% of the retirement benefit the firefighter would have received if they had retired on the date of their death. This is calculated as 50% of the firefighter’s salary, averaged over their 3 highest paid years, plus an additional 2% per every year of service over 20 years.

Firefighters who were employed full time on or after 1 July 2011 are eligible to be members of the New Public Safety and Firefighter Tier II Contributory Retirement System. Spouses of firefighters who have less than 20 years service receive a monthly benefit of 30% of the final average monthly salary. For more than 20 years of service, the benefit is 1.5% of the firefighter’s salary, averaged over their 5 highest paid years, per every year of service.

Other firefighters may be covered under the Public Employees Contributory or Noncontributory Retirement System.

Call/Volunteer Firefighters

Volunteer firefighters are eligible for the benefits listed above, based on their start date as a volunteer firefighter. For a volunteer firefighter, the lowest monthly compensation of firefighters of a city of the first class in the state at the time of death shall be considered to be their final average monthly salary.

Contact:

Retirement Benefits Department
Utah Retirement Systems

Salt Lake City Office
560 East 200 South, Suite 240
Salt Lake City, UT 84102-2021
Phone: (801) 366-7700 (Salt Lake City)
Fax: (801) 366-7733
Website: hwww.urs.org/Members/

(Reference: Utah Code Sections 49-16-501, 49-16-502, 49-23-503)

EDUCATION BENEFIT – CHILDREN

Any state institution of higher education shall waive tuition for each child of a Utah firefighter who has been killed in the line of duty for any courses that are applicable toward the degree or certificate requirements of the program in which the child is enrolled. The child cannot have previously obtained a bachelor’s degree. This benefit is available for 9 semesters or 124 semester credits (or their equivalents), whichever comes first.

The child must be under the age of 25 when first applying for this benefit.


EDUCATION BENEFIT – SPOUSE

Spouses are eligible for the same benefit as above, with the age restriction removed.

Contact:

Utah System of Higher Education
Office of the Commissioner

Board of Regents Building
60 South 400 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84101-1284
Phone: (801) 321-7294
Fax: (801) 366-8430
Website: https://higheredutah.org/
E-mail: uheaa@utahsbr.edu

(Reference: Utah Code Sections 53B-8c-103)

NON-PROFIT OR PRIVATE ORGANIZATIONS

Utah State Firefighters’ Association

Attn: Gina Bell, Secretary
PO Box 26731
Salt Lake City, UT 84126
Phone: (801) 580-2336
Website: www.fireassociation.com/death-benefit/
E-mail: gina.bell@slcgov.com

Members of the USFA are eligible for a $500 death benefit.

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 and any dependent children are eligible to continue the health coverage provided by the employer of the deceased firefighter as if the surviving spouse was an employee of the employer. A spouse is eligible for this coverage until they become eligible for Medicare. A child is eligible for this coverage until the age of 26.

The employer shall pay 100% of the premium costs and, if the health coverage is a high-deductible plan, the employer’s share of any contribution into a health savings account for the surviving spouse and dependent children. Employees of the state are not eligible for this premium coverage.
The firefighter must have been eligible to receive, or was receiving, employer group health coverage at the time of death.

Contact your fire department for specific information about the coverage offered and any forms needed to elect this coverage.

(Reference: Utah Code Section 49-20-406, 53-17-201)

TAX ABATEMENT

Utah does not have a state wide tax abatement benefit for the families of fallen firefighters.


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.