Wisconsin Survivor Benefits

Updated December 2018

ONE-TIME DEATH BENEFIT

A one-time payment equal to 300% of the firefighter’s average annual salary shall be paid to any dependents, with a minimum payment of $50,000. An additional $2,000 shall be added to this benefit for each wholly dependent beneficiary over 4 persons.

Wages for a volunteer firefighter are considered to be equivalent to those of a career firefighter with similar experience and duties in a nearby municipality.

Dependents include any of the following: a spouse; a domestic partner; a biological or adopted child, or a child living with the firefighter as part of their family, either under the age of 18 or physically or mentally incapacitated from earning.

If there are no survivors wholly dependent upon the firefighter, partially dependent survivors may be eligible for part or all of the payment.

Contact:

Workers’ Compensation Office
Room C100
201 E. Washington Ave.
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-1340
Fax: (608) 267-0394
Website: dwd.wisconsin.gov/wc/
E-mail: DWDDWC@dwd.wisconsin.gov

(Reference: Wisconsin Statute 102.11, 102.475, DWD 80.30)

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION

The spouse or domestic partner of the deceased shall be paid a total of 4 times the deceased’s average annual earnings. This benefit is paid in weekly installments which each weekly payment not to exceed 66-2/3% of the deceased’s average weekly wage.

Once the above payment ends the spouse or partner shall receive 10% of the weekly payments they had been receiving per dependent child for that child’s support. Each child, whether biological, adopted, or living with and dependent upon the deceased at the time of death, is eligible until they turn 18 years old. Children physically or mentally incapacitated from earning remain eligible past the age of 18, but can only receive this benefit for a maximum of 15 years.

Wages for a volunteer firefighter are considered to be equivalent to those of a career firefighter with similar experience and duties in a nearby municipality.

If there are no survivors wholly dependent upon the firefighter, partially dependent survivors or parents of the deceased may be eligible for part or all of the payment.

Contact:

Workers’ Compensation Office
Room C100
201 E. Washington Ave.
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-1340
Fax: (608) 267-0394
Website: https://dwd.wisconsin.gov/wc/
E-mail: DWDDWC@dwd.wisconsin.gov

(Reference: Wisconsin Statutes 102.46, 102.49)

COMPENSATION FOR DEATH OR DISABILITY OF FIREFIGHTERS FROM OCCUPATIONAL DISEASES

Heart and respiratory impairment or disease, infectious disease, and cancer which causes disability or death are all presumed to be occupational diseases for firefighters, subject to the restrictions listed below.

For heart and respiratory disease, the firefighter must have served for at least 5 years and have had a qualifying medical examination which showed no evidence of such disease.

For an infectious disease, the firefighter must have served for at least 5 years and have had a qualifying medical examination which showed no evidence of such disease. The full list of infectious diseases covered is: human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), tuberculosis, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, hepatitis D, diphtheria, meningococcal meningitis, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

For cancer, the firefighter must have served for at least 10 years and have had a qualifying medical examination which showed no evidence of such cancer. Cancers that are covered are cancers affecting: the skin, breasts, central nervous system or lymphatic, digestive, hematological, urinary, skeletal, oral or reproductive systems. The presumption for cancers caused by smoking or tobacco product use shall not apply to any municipal firefighter who smokes cigarettes or uses a tobacco product.

(Reference: Wisconsin Statutes 891.45, 891.453, 891.455)

FUNERAL BENEFIT

The employer or workers’ compensation insurer shall pay the actual expense for burial, not exceeding $10,000.

Contact:

Workers’ Compensation Office
Room C100
201 E. Washington Ave.
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-1340
Fax: (608) 267-0394
Website: dwd.wisconsin.gov/wc/
E-mail: DWDDWC@dwd.wisconsin.gov

(Reference: Wisconsin Statute 102.50)

RETIREMENT/PENSION PLAN

Call/Volunteer Firefighters

The Service Award Program (formerly called the Length of Service Award Program, or LOSA) is a tax-deferred benefit program to assist municipalities in retaining volunteer firefighters, first responders and emergency medical technicians. Check with your local municipality to see if they are participating in the program.

The beneficiary of a volunteer firefighter killed in the line of duty shall be paid a length of service award consisting of all municipal and state contributions made on behalf of the volunteer firefighter, and all earnings on the contributions, less any expenses incurred in the investment of the contributions and earnings. The amount the state and municipality contribute is dependent on length of service, amount contributed by the firefighter, and municipal rules. The benefit is paid either in a lump sum or in another manner specified by municipal rule.

Contact:

Service Award Program Administrator
Division of Intergovernmental Relations

Attn: Dawn Vick
PO Box 8944
Madison, WI 53708-8944
Phone: (608) 266‐7043
Fax: (608) 267-6917
Website: https://doa.wi.gov/Pages/LocalGovtsGrants/Service-Award-Program.aspx
E-mail: dawn.vick@wisconsin.gov

Career Firefighters

In the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS), a surviving spouse receives 50% of the firefighter’s monthly salary at the time of death, reduced by other income sources that are based on the participant’s earnings records (e.g., Social Security benefits, other WRS benefits, Workers’ Compensation etc.). This is increased to 70% if the firefighter dies from an occupational cancer. The spouse receives this benefit until death or remarriage.
The spouse or other guardian of the firefighter’s dependent children receives 10% of the firefighter’s monthly salary for each child. This is payable until the child marries, dies or reaches age 18, whichever occurs first. These payments are updated yearly for a Cost-of-Living Adjustment.
The total amount payable cannot exceed 70% of the firefighter’s monthly salary at the time of death, less the offsets for other income.

Contact:

Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds
North Tower, 8th Floor
Hill Farms State Office Building
4822 Madison Yards Way
Madison, WI 53705-9100
Phone: (608) 266-3285
Website: etf.wi.gov
E-mail: Contact Form

(Reference: Wisconsin Statutes 16.25, 40.65)

EDUCATION BENEFIT – CHILDREN

A child whose parent died in the line of duty as a volunteer or career firefighter when the child was under the age of 21 is eligible for a full remission of fees while enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program at any school in the University of Wisconsin system. The student shall be eligible for this wavier until they obtain a bachelor’s degree or for 5 consecutive years. Children who are unborn when their parent dies in the line of duty are eligible for this benefit as well.


EDUCATION BENEFIT – SPOUSE

Spouses are eligible for the same benefit outlined above. The age limit does not apply to spouses.
Please contact the Financial Aid Office at the location the beneficiary currently attends or is going to attend. The full list of Financial Aid offices for the UW system can be found here.

(Reference: Wisconsin Statute 36.27(3m))

1995 Wisconsin Act 228


NON-PROFIT OR PRIVATE ORGANIZATIONS

Kids’ Chance of Wisconsin

PO Box 1546
Brookfield, WI 53008
Website: kidschanceofwi.org
E-mail: Info@kidschanceofwi.org

Kids’ Chance of Wisconsin offers scholarships to students with a parent who has been seriously or fatally injured in a workplace accident in the state of Wisconsin. The applicant must be aged 17-24. Applicant must be enrolled as or applying to be a full-time student at a college, university, technical, or trade school. The scholarships vary in amount based on demonstrated need and available funds but generally range from $500 to $5,000.
Contact: Kids’ Chance of Wisconsin

Wisconsin State Firefighter’s Association

P.O. Box 267
Mazomanie, WI 53560
Phone: (608) 401-1650
Fax: (608) 401-1651
Website: www.wi-state-firefighters.org
E-mail: wsfa@wi-state-firefighters.org

WSFA members have 24-hour AD&D insurance for on and off duty accidents. The death payout is $3,000.

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.


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.