Are grandchildren considered dependents and eligible to receive death benefits?


In society today, it is not unusual to see grandchildren living with their grandparents.  Under the workers’ compensation laws are grandchildren considered dependents?  Biological children of an employee that are under age 18 are considered dependents. Pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 34-9-13, a “child” also includes dependent stepchildren, legally adopted children, posthumous children, and acknowledged children born out of wedlock.  Married children are not considered dependents.

As for grandchildren, O.C.G.A. § 34-9-13(d) states that in all other cases, questions of dependency shall be determined in accordance with the facts at the time of the accident.  Also, no compensation shall be allowed unless the dependency existed for a period of three months or more prior to the accident.

Facts: An employee gets injured while working on September 11, 1998.  He received workers’ compensation benefits for his injury.  On February 14, 2000, the employee’s grandson moved into his home to live.  On August 17, 2006, the employee’s injury was deemed as catastrophic.  On October 2, 2006, the employee dies due to complications related to his work injury.  Is the grandson eligible considered a dependent and entitled death benefits?

If we apply the workers’ compensation rules to our fact pattern, the grandson that moved in with the employee on February 14, 2000 is NOT eligible for death benefits.  While the grandson would be considered a dependent if he moved in and received financial support from his grandfather/employee, he was not a dependent at the time of the accident on September 11, 1998.  Dependency is determined at the time of the accident which in this case was 2 years before the grandson moved in with his grandfather.