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Benefits Policies

Death Gratuity Policy

The following outlines the procedures for the administration, management and processing of Death Gratuity payments as authorized under Section 651 of Public Law 104-208, the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act effective September 30, 1996.

The Department will pay a death gratuity of up to $10,000 to the personal representative of an employee, when there is clear and convincing evidence that the employee died from an injury or illness sustained in the line of duty, which occurred on or after August 2, 1990. This includes employees who die after separation from the Department, if the death is the result of an injury or illness sustained while in the line of duty. It does not include employees whose death is determined to have resulted from willful misconduct.

The payment of the death gratuity, as provided in statute, will be made from appropriated funds.

The Director, Office of Human Resources Management (or designated staff member) serves as the Department's administrator of the Death Gratuity program, and is responsible for program administration, management, and operations, as follows:

    A. Establishing policies, procedures, and guidelines that ensure effective and equitable disbursement of death gratuity payments, including:

    1. Determining whether an employee sustained a fatal injury or illness while in the line of duty. The injury or illness must arise out of, or in the course of employment. A determination made by the Department of Labor Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP) may be used to establish whether an employee sustained an injury or illness while in the line of duty.

    2. Ensuring that the death gratuity will be offset by statutorily mandated amounts paid under:

    a. 5 U.S.C. 8133(f), which provides for the payment of up to $200 for reimbursement of the administrative costs of terminating the deceased employee's status as an employee of the United States government. This payment is made by OWCP.

    b. 5 U.S.C. 8134(a), which provides for a payment of up to $800 for reimbursement of funeral and burial expenses. This payment is made by OWCP; and/or

    c. Section 312 of Public Law 103-332, the Department of Interior and Related Agencies Appropriation Act, 1995, which provides for the payment of up to $10,000 in reimbursement for burial costs and related out-of-pocket expenses for

    employees killed in the line of duty in agencies that receive appropriations, under a Department of Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for fiscal year 1995 and thereafter.

    3. Determining who shall be deemed the personal representative of the deceased employee, for the purposes of releasing a death gratuity payment. The personal representative will be:

    a. A legally appointed executor/executrix of the estate;

    b. If there is no legally appointed representative, consideration will be given to the order of precedence governing the payment of a Federal employee's unpaid compensation, as set forth in 5 U.S.C. 5582; or

    c. If other complex issues exist regarding the determination, the issue will be referred to General Counsel for opinion.

    4. Ensuring that death gratuity payments are not made if it is determined that the employee's death resulted from willful misconduct.

    B. Ensuring that procedures are followed to effect prompt and accurate payments.

    1. Coordinating with budget offices to ensure that the proper appropriations code is used for the disbursement of funds.

    2. Preparing and transmitting the necessary data to the National Finance Center to facilitate payment, and ensuring that there is no Federal tax withholding, but that an IRS Form 1099-R is generated to the gratuity recipient.

    3. Advising recipients of the nature of the payment, the offset provisions, and that they may be obligated to pay taxes on the death gratuity payments.

    4. Providing budget offices with background material, and verification of payment.