Missouri: Court Declines to Limit Remarriage Benefits

Missouri: Court Declines to Limit Remarriage Benefits

Missouri worker's compensation law allows a two-year lump-sum benefit to a surviving spouse who remarries.  The Missouri Court of Appeals addressed  whether a surviving spouse receives the full amount of the remarriage benefit  if the surviving spouse was not entitled to 100% of the death benefits.

In Ash v Millennium Restoration and Construction, SD 32381 (Mo. Ct. App. August 27, 2013); 2013 Mo App. Lexis 1005 (lexis.com),   2013 Mo App. Lexis 1005 (Lexis Advance), the court construed a clause in  287.240(4), "the benefits due for a period of two years", to mean remarriage benefits based on the full weekly disability rate of $742.72 and not the lower amount of $247.57 that had been allocated to the spouse as death benefits.

The statute addresses two separate benefits including periodic death benefits and a remarriage benefit.  The provision addressing death benefits contains a provision regarding allocation. The court declined to construe the same provision to remarriage benefits.

"Section 287.240 does not contain any language which expressly indicates that the remarriage benefit should be calculated based only on the amount of the weekly death benefits attributable to the remarrying spouse." Applying strict construction, the court concluded the employer's argument would require the court to add a limitation not expressly indicated. As a result, the surviving spouse received more than another $50,000 as a statutory benefit lump-sum for remarrying.

The CDC reports more than half of surviving spouses will remarry within a ten year period, depending on age.

Source: Martin Klug, Huck, Howe & Tobin. Read Martin Klug’s Mo. Workers’ Comp Alerts.

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