By Quentin Fottrell, MarketWatch
My dad recently died due to coronavirus. He was also an employee of the hospital where he died.
Can we file for any death benefits or claim funeral expenses from the hospital where he worked? We cannot cover the funeral costs for him. My dad was a low-income employee.
Please help me. I need advice on what we could do to get any financial assistance from his company, and if the state provides any funeral assistance.
We do not know where to go or what to do.
M. in Tampa, Fla.
Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m very sorry for your loss. Depending on the kind of hospital where your father worked, where may be quite a lot of things you can do.
From Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation : In response to an executive order issued by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, establishing COVID-19 response protocols and directing a public-health emergency, first responders, health-care workers, and others that contract COVID-19 due to work-related exposure would be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits under Florida law.
Contact the hospital where your father worked and speak to human resources and/or his direct supervisor. Ask if he has any life-insurance policy through the company and/or whether it is helping with these expenses, or if there’s a COVID-19 fund to help families of employees who have died of the virus. Unfortunately, more hazardous working conditions do not always guarantee coverage.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency provided funeral assistance of more than $250 million in the wake of Hurricane Irma in 2017, but FEMA is not allocating funds for those who have died from COVID-19. Democratic members of Congress have asked President Donald Trump to help out families who have lost loved ones to coronavirus.
“Just as with all previous disasters, we should not expect the families of those that died — or the hardest-hit states — to pay for burials,” according to the statement released in May by Rep. Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, and Rep. Peter DeFazio, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
“President Trump needs to step up and approve this assistance so FEMA can pay for the funerals of our fellow Americans so they can be buried in dignity. It is the least he can do,” they wrote. The $2.2 trillion CARES Act that was enacted in March and the House-approved $3 trillion HEROES Act to help people make ends meet during the pandemic did not allocate money toward this.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, “14 states have taken action to extend workers’ compensation coverage to include COVID-19 as a work-related illness. Six states have enacted legislation creating a presumption of coverage for various types of workers. Alaska, Minnesota, Utah and Wisconsin limit the coverage to first responders and health-care workers.”
“Illinois covers all essential workers and Wyoming covers all workers. Four states have used executive-branch authority to implement presumption policies for first responders and health-care workers in response to COVID-19,” it said. “Four states, including California and Kentucky, have taken executive action to provide coverage to other essential workers, like grocery-store employees.”
The NCSL is tracking legislation, executive orders and other administrative policy changes that directly address workers’ compensation coverage for COVID-19. In Florida, first responders, child-safety investigators, corrections officers, National Guard members responding to COVID-19 and state-employed health-care workers have the presumption of occupational disease.
The national law firm Fisher Phillips breaks down the presumption of occupational disease. “This means the law concludes that any such public servants who contract cardiovascular, pulmonary, or respiratory diseases are presumed to have contracted such diseases at work,” said Jerry Cline, a member of the firm’s COVID-19 task force.
Some states have expanded this to other workers who have a higher risk of exposure to COVID-19. “Expect the number of states enacting COVID-19 occupational disease claims to increase, as we are living through a resurgence of increased infection, which will undoubtedly increase the risk of exposure to first responders and related worker classifications,” Cline added.
Thank you again for writing in. I wish you all the good wishes and strength in the world in finding a way through both the emotional, and financial, challenges that lie ahead.
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