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Right to survivor's benefits under workers' compensation insurance

Region: Ontario Answer # 0130

Under the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, a spouse or a dependant of a person who has died of a work-related injury or disease may be eligible for Workplace Safety and Insurance (WSIB) benefits and services. Under the Act, common-law couples must meet the following definition of a spouse for the purposes of receiving WSIB benefits.

A spouse is a person:

  • to whom a person is married, or
  • with whom the person is living in a conjugal relationship outside marriage if the two persons
    • have cohabited for at least one year,
    • are together the parents of a child , or
    • have together entered into a cohabitation agreement under s.53 of the Family Law Act.

When more than one person fits the definition of spouse, benefits are split between them.

Survivor benefits

Common-law spouses (who meet the definition of spouse under the Act) who depended on the worker’s earnings at the time he or she died due to a work-related injury or illness may be entitled to survivor benefits, including:

  • survivor payments (lump-sum and monthly),
  • funeral and transportation costs,
  • bereavement counselling, and
  • support for spouses looking to re-enter the workforce.

Can separated spouses receive survivor benefits?

Payments to survivors, including eligible separated spouses, include both a lump-sum payment as well as monthly payments that continue for life. Separated spouses (including common-law) may be eligible for survivor benefits if:

  • immediately before the workers’ death, the worker had been required to make support payments established by a separation agreement or court order, or
  • the separated spouse was otherwise financially dependent on the worker at the time of the worker’s death.

For more information on survivor’s benefits, including the amount of benefits payable and how they are calculated, refer to topic #640 Survivor benefits

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