Document name
Dependent Spouses – Initial Entitlement and Re-Employment Assistance
Document number
POL 24/2016

Effective date: March 1, 2017

Approved date: March 1, 2017

Last updated: October 20, 2016

Application: All dependent spouses on and after the effective date.

Policy subject: Fatalities - Dependants

Purpose:

To establish guidelines for providing initial benefits and re-employment assistance to dependent spouses.

DEFINITION

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Re-employment assistance includes, but may not be limited to, the following:

  • Job search assistance.
  • Moving allowance.
  • Academic or vocational training.
  • Temporary modified work programs.
  • Workplace modifications.

BACKGROUND

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  1. The Workers’ Compensation Act, 2013 (the “Act”) authorizes the WCB to provide spousal benefits and re-employment assistance (Sections 19(1)(d), 81, 93, 111(c) and 115(f)).
  2. Section 81(1)(a) directs that the percentage of the deceased worker’s average weekly earnings the dependent spouse will receive is based on when the worker “sustained an injury.” However, dependent spouses are only eligible to receive benefits from the date of the worker’s death. As a result, it is fair and reasonable to conclude that it was the legislation drafters’ intent to have Section 81(1)(a) benefits based on the worker’s date of death.

POLICY

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General

  1. The combination of all benefits for spouses (not including retraining and counselling services, or benefits for children or children with disabilities) will not exceed the equivalent of full spousal benefits.
  2. When establishing initial entitlement, the tax exemption level for the payment of compensation to the spouse will be the same as the tax exemption level recorded for the worker at the time of death. The exemption status for the spouse will not change for the initial entitlement period. Compensation after the initial entitlement period will be calculated in accordance with POL 02/2015, Compensation – Dependent Spouse after Initial Entitlement.

Spousal benefits – eligibility

  1. The WCB will pay benefits to a spouse if he or she is:
    1. Legally married to and living with the worker on the date of death, or
    2. Living with the worker as a spouse on the date of death or injury and:
      1. The person had lived with the worker as a spouse continuously for a period of at least one year, or
      2. The person and the worker are parents of a child.
  2. The WCB will pay benefits to former spouses that are not living with the worker at the time of death when:
    1. The worker is providing the former spouse some form of regular financial support, or
    2. The former spouse is actively pursuing (i.e., verifiable attempt within one year prior to the worker’s death) a court order or a similar agreement for financial support at the time of the worker’s death.
  3. If survived by a spouse that lived with the worker on the date of death or injury and a partially dependent former spouse, the WCB will pay spousal benefits in an amount proportionate to the dependants’:
    1. Financial loss, or
    2. Loss of valuable services.
  4. If there is a dependent spouse and one or more additional dependants of the worker and they do not live together as a family unit, the WCB may divide the spousal benefits among those dependants in any manner that it considers just and equitable.

Death of the worker is due to a work injury

  1. If the worker’s death is due to a work injury, the WCB will initially pay benefits to the spouse until the end of the month in which the:
    1. Fifth anniversary of the worker’s date of death occurs, if he or she has no dependent children.
    2. Youngest child reaches age 16, or age 18 if attending school full time.
  2. If the worker’s death is due to a work injury, the WCB may provide the spouse with re-employment assistance.
  3. Following the initial benefit period noted in Point 7, the WCB will provide benefits to the spouse in accordance with POL 02/2015, Compensation – Dependent Spouse after Initial Entitlement.

Death of worker is not due to a work injury

  1. If the worker’s death is not due to a work injury and the worker was receiving benefits for:
    1. 24 consecutive months or less at the time of death, the WCB:
      1. Will pay benefits to the spouse until the end of the month in which the three month anniversary of the worker’s date of death occurs.
      2. Will not provide the spouse with re-employment assistance.
    2. More than 24 consecutive months at the time of death, the WCB:
      1. Will pay benefits to the spouse until the end of the month in which the 12 month anniversary of the worker’s date of death occurs.
      2. May provide the spouse with re-employment assistance.
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