Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions
- Dependency benefits (separation)
The worker died in December 2011, as a result of a compensable injury. The worker's widow appealed a decision of the Appeals Resolution Officer denying survivor benefits. Under s. 48(7) of the WSIA, a separated spouse is entitled to dependency benefits if the deceased worker was required to make support or maintenance payment immediately before his death under a separation agreement. If there is no separation agreement, the Board may pay benefits if the spouse was dependent on the worker at the time of the worker's death. The worker had his spouse were marred in 1980 and separated in 1993. The worker made support payments for his children pursuant to a separation agreement but he was no longer required to make payments after the children turned 18, and, in fact, stopped making regular support payments at that time. Thus, the spouse was not entitled to benefits under the first provision in s. 48(7). The spouse claimed that the worker continued to provide occasional support for her and, in particular claimed that he gave her about $7,000 in the year he died. The Panel noted that the spouse earned over $30,000 in 2011, whereas the worker had total income of only $4,500 in 2011. The Panel found it highly unlikely that the worker would have given the spouse $7,000 in a year in which his total income was only $4,500. There was also no evidence of any regular payments to the spouse. The Panel concluded that the spouse was not dependent on the worker at the time of his death. She was not entitled to survivor benefits. The appeal was dismissed.