Washington Survivor Benefits

Updated December 2018

ONE-TIME DEATH BENEFIT

A one-time payment of $214,000 shall be paid to the dependent spouse, children, or parents of a deceased volunteer or career firefighter.

Note that while both volunteer and career firefighters receive the same monetary benefit, they have different administers.

Volunteer

Contact:

Board for Volunteer Firefighters and Reserve Officers
James R. Larson Forum Building
605 E 11th Avenue #112
Olympia, WA 98507
Phone: (360) 753-7318
Fax: (360) 586-1987
Website: https://www.bvff.wa.gov/

Career

Contact:

Department of Retirement Systems
6835 Capitol Boulevard SE
Tumwater, WA 98501
Phone: (360) 664.7000
Website: https://www.drs.wa.gov/member/systems/leoff/
E-mail: Contact Form

(Reference: Washington RCW 41.24.160, 41.26.048)


WORKERS’ COMPENSATION

A one-time payment equal to the state average monthly wage shall be immediately paid to a surviving spouse, registered domestic partner, child, or dependent, if any. Effective 1 July 2018 until 30 June 2019, the states’ average monthly wage is $5157.25.

For career firefighters, a surviving spouse or partner shall receive a monthly benefit payment for life or until remarriage. Upon remarriage, the surviving spouse may receive a lump sum of 36 times the monthly compensation rate described below, or 50% of the remaining annuity value of the firefighter’s pension, whichever is the lesser.

If there are no dependent children of the deceased, 60% of the firefighter’s wages shall be paid to the spouse or partner. For each dependent child of the deceased firefighter, this payment shall be increased by 2%, up to a maximum of 70%. Should any child have a legal guardian other than the surviving spouse or partner, that guardian shall receive 5% of the total benefits outlined above for each child in their care, up to a maximum of 25%.

Upon remarriage, each dependent child shall receive a monthly payment of 5% of the firefighter’s wages. Should there be 5 or more children, they shall all equally split 25% of the wages.

If there is a dependent child but no surviving spouse or partner, the child’s guardian shall receive 35% of the firefighter’s wages. An additional 15%, up to 65%, shall be added for each additional child for the children to share equally.

If there is neither a child nor spouse/partner, any other dependents shall receive a monthly payment of 50% of the average monthly support actually received by such dependent from the firefighter during the 12 months preceding the occurrence of the injury causing death, up to 65% of the firefighter’s wages.

The total amount of monthly payments shall not exceed 120% of the state average monthly wage. Effective 1 July 2018 until 30 June 2019, the states’ average monthly wage is $5157.25, making the maximum monthly benefit $6,188.70.

Payments to children cease when any such child reaches the age of eighteen years. If a child is a dependent invalid child, these payments shall continue for as long as such child is dependent upon the surviving spouse or legal guardian. If a child is permanently enrolled as a full-time student in an accredited school, these payments shall continue until they are no longer enrolled or reach the age of 23.

All monthly payments are subject to a Cost-of-Living Adjustment, starting on the second July 1st following the date of injury causing death.

Volunteer firefighters are not covered under Washington Workers’ Compensation.

Contact:

Claims Administration
Washington State Department of Labor & Industries

7273 Linderson Way SW
Tumwater, WA 98501-5414
Phone: (360) 902-5800
Website: https://www.lni.wa.gov/ClaimsIns/Claims/default.asp
E-mail: Contact Form

(Reference: Washington RCW 51.32.025, 51.32.050, 51.32.075)

COMPENSATION FOR DEATH OR DISABILITY OF FIREFIGHTERS FROM OCCUPATIONAL DISEASES

For career firefighters, a prima facie presumption exists that the following are occupational diseases, with the restrictions listed below: respiratory disease; heart problems; cancer; posttraumatic stress disorder; and infectious diseases.
Regular or historical tobacco use may prevent firefighters from applying this presumption to respiratory diseases and heart problems.
Any heart problems must be experienced within 72 hours of exposure to smoke, fumes, or toxic substances, or experienced within 24 hours of strenuous physical exertion due to firefighting activities.
The types of cancer for which this presumption holds are: prostate cancer diagnosed prior to the age of fifty, primary brain cancer, malignant melanoma, leukemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, bladder cancer, ureter cancer, colorectal cancer, multiple myeloma, testicular cancer, and kidney cancer. The firefighter must have completed 10 years service, and have had a qualifying medical examination upon becoming a firefighter that showed no evidence of cancer.
Posttraumatic stress disorder is only presumed for firefighters who have completed 10 years of service. If they are employed in the private sector, the employer must employ 50 or more firefighters for this presumption to apply.
Covered infectious diseases are: Human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, all strains of hepatitis, meningococcal meningitis, or mycobacterium tuberculosis.
These presumptions shall be extended to a firefighter following termination of service for a period of 3 calendar months for each year of requisite service, up to 60 months (5 years) from the last date of employment.

(Reference: Washington RCW 51.32.185)

FUNERAL BENEFIT

Volunteer Firefighters

The Board for Volunteer Firefighters and Reserve Officers shall authorize the issuance of a voucher for the sum of $2,000 to help defray funeral expenses.

Contact:

Board for Volunteer Firefighters and Reserve Officers
James R. Larson Forum Building
605 E 11th Avenue #112
Olympia, WA 98507
Phone: (360) 753-7318
Fax: (360) 586-1987
Website: www.bvff.wa.gov

Career Firefighters

Under Workers’ Compensation law, the expenses of burial shall be paid, not to exceed 200% of the states’ average monthly wage. Effective 1 July 2018 until 30 June 2019, the states’ average monthly wage is $5157.25, making the maximum funeral benefit $10,314.50.

Contact:

Claims Administration
Washington State Department of Labor & Industries

7273 Linderson Way SW
Tumwater, WA 98501-5414
Phone: (360) 902-5800
Website: https://www.lni.wa.gov/ClaimsIns/Claims/default.asp
E-mail: Contact Form

(Reference:Washington RCW 41.24.230)

RETIREMENT/PENSION PLAN

Volunteer Firefighters

Spouses, domestic partners, and dependent children are eligible for a monthly benefit. This benefit is updated yearly on 1 July for a Cost-of-Living Adjustment. As of 1 July 2018, $1894.63 per month shall be paid to a surviving spouse or partner. $530.56 per month per dependent child shall be paid to the guardian of said children. Children are no longer dependents once they are emancipated or 18 years old.
This payment can be converted into a lump-sum payment, not to exceed $25,000, upon request.

Contact:

Board for Volunteer Firefighters and Reserve Officers
James R. Larson Forum Building
605 E 11th Avenue #112
Olympia, WA 98507
Phone: (360) 753-7318
Fax: (360) 586-1987
Website: www.bvff.wa.gov

Career Firefighters

The following is for members of the Law Enforcement Officers’ and Fire Fighters’ Retirement System (LEOFF), administered by the Department of Retirement Systems. A surviving spouse, partner or, if neither exists guardian of the firefighter’s minor children will be eligible to choose a benefit consisting of either: a lump-sum payment of 150% of the firefighter’s pension contributions; or a monthly benefit equal to 10% of the firefighter’s Final Average Salary (FAS) plus 2% of the FAS for each year of service beyond 5 years.
As stated above, if the surviving spouse or domestic partner remarries they are no longer eligible for monthly workers’ compensation payments. However, they are able to request additional payment from the DRS equivalent to the monthly workers’ compensation benefit. If they chose the lump sum option before remarriage, the equivalent benefit payments from DRS will be reduced.
If the firefighter was covered under the LEOFF plan before 1 October, 1977, dependents may be eligible for different benefits. Contact the DRS for more information.

Contact:

Department of Retirement Systems
6835 Capitol Boulevard SE
Tumwater, WA 98501
Phone: (360) 664-7000
Website: https://www.drs.wa.gov/member/systems/leoff/
E-mail: Contact Form

(Reference: Washington RCW 41.26.510)

EDUCATION BENEFIT – CHILDREN

Children of volunteer and career firefighters shall be exempt from all tuition and service and activity fees at Washington state universities, regional universities, and The Evergreen State College. As of December 2018, this includes the following schools: University of Washington, Washington State University, Central Washington University, Eastern Washington University, and Western Washington University, as well as The Evergreen State College. “Service and activity fees” means fees charged to all students such as student use fees or student building use fees.

Children may receive this exemption only if they begin their course of study within ten years of their graduation from high school.


EDUCATION BENEFIT – SPOUSE

Spouses and domestic partners are eligible for the benefit outlined above. They do not need to use it within 10 years of graduating high school.
Please contact the Financial Aid or Scholarship Office at the university or college the beneficiary attends or plans to attend for more details.

(Reference: Washington RCW 28B.15.041, 28B.15.380)

NON-PROFIT OR PRIVATE ORGANIZATIONS

Washington State Spouse and Orphan’s Fund

3242 NE 3rd Ave #177
Camas, WA 98607
Phone: (360) 624-6668
Website: www.wasofund.org
E-mail: WASOFUND@AOL.COM

The Washington State Spouse and Orphan’s Fund shall give up to $1,750 to the beneficiaries of a fallen firefighter.

Kids’ Chance of Washington

P.O. Box 185
Olympia, WA 98507-0185
Phone: (800) 572-5762
Fax: (360) 943-2333
Website: http://kidschancewa.com
E-mail: debbie@wscff.org

Kids’ Chance of Washington offers scholarships to children with a parent who has been seriously or fatally injured in a workplace accident in the state of Washington, causing financial need. Scholarships can be used for tuition, books, fees, room and general living expenses and are paid directly to the school where the student is enrolled. The scholarships vary in amount based on demonstrated need and available funds.
Spouses are also eligible for this benefit.

Washington State Fire Fighters’ Association

1910 E. 4th Ave., PMB 117
Olympia, WA 98506-4632
Phone: (800) 340-8023
Website: https://wsffa.org/
E-mail: Contact Form

WSFFA offers LODD benefits to members of the association. Contact the association for details on requesting this benefit and the benefit amount.

Washington State Council of Fire Fighters

1069 Adams Street Southeast
Olympia, WA 98501
Phone: (360) 943-3030
Fax: (360) 943-2333
Website: www.wscff.org
E-mail: Contact Form

The Washington State Council of Fire Fighters Benevolent Fund offers a scholarship program for dependents of current and past members of the WSCFF. Applicants must be a senior in high school for the 2017-2018 school year and planning to attend an accredited university, community college, or trade school.

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

The Public Employees Benefits Board (PEBB) Program allows for surviving spouses, surviving state registered domestic partners, and dependent children of emergency service personnel killed in the line of duty to participate in PEBB retiree insurance coverage. These benefits are provided free of charge. Spouses and partners are eligible for life and children are eligible as long as they are dependents. Contact the Washington Health Care Authority for coverage details.

Contact:

PEBB Program
Health Care Authority

626 8th Avenue SE
Olympia, WA 98501
Phone: (360) 725-0440
Fax: (360) 725-0771
Website: www.hca.wa.gov
E-mail: Contact Form

(Reference: Washington RCW 41.05.080)

TAX ABATEMENT

The State of Washington does not offer any tax abatements for the survivors 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.