Benefits: Death Benefits: Remarriage
(VanHorn) Killion v. State Fund [4/22/99] 1999 MTWCC 30 Statute prohibiting discriminatory practices by state or its political subdivisions does not prohibit or override section 39-71-721, MCA (1989), which provides that workers' compensation death benefits to a surviving spouse terminate upon remarriage. State Compensation Insurance Fund, while arguably a quasi-state agency, is funded by premiums paid by private businesses and operates in the same manner as a private insurer, and is not subject to the statute. Moreover, because section 39-71-721, MCA (1989) is specific and unequivocal in its application, it is controlling on the issue and is not overriden by the general provisions of section 49-2-308(1), MCA (1989).
|(VanHorn) Killion v. State Fund [4/22/99] 1999 MTWCC 30 Section 39-71-721(5), MCA, which provides that workers' compensation benefits to a surviving spouse terminate upon remarriage, does not violate constitutional provisions prohibiting the state from establishing religion or preventing the free exercise thereof. The statute is religiously neutral and simply reflects the fact that Montana laws create legal obligations between husband and wife, attempting to provide replacement income for the loss of support upon the death of a spouse.|
|(VanHorn) Killion v. State Fund [4/22/99] 1999 MTWCC 30 Section 39-71-721(5), MCA, which provides that workers' compensation benefits to a surviving spouse terminate upon remarriage, does not violate constitutional provisions guaranteeing equal protection. The classification involved here – marital status – is not a suspect classification requiring heightened scrutiny. Eastman v. Atlantic Richfield, 237 Mont. 332, 338, 777 P.2d 862, 865 (1989). In assessing whether the statute bears a rational relationship to a legitimate governmental purpose, the Court is not limited to the legislative record but must consider "every conceivable basis" for the statute. A rational basis for terminating death benefits upon remarriage exists in that death benefits are intended to replace, at least in part, the loss of financial support provided by a deceased spouse. Remarriage provides a new relationship with the same obligation that existed between the claimant and the deceased spouse.|
|(VanHorn) Killion v. State Fund [4/22/99] 1999 MTWCC 30 Section 39-71-721(5), MCA, which provides that workers' compensation benefits to a surviving spouse terminate upon remarriage, does not violate constitutional protections of privacy. While claimant argues the insurer's inquiries regarding her marital status invaded her privacy, the record does not indicate that claimant in fact sought to keep her marital status private in any other context. Moreover, society does not recognize a reasonable expectation of privacy in one's marital status.|
|Blowers v. Montana Insurance Guaranty Association [4/25/97] 1997 MTWCC 24 Under section 39-71-721(5), MCA (1983) death benefits must be paid to a widow or widower for life or until remarriage, and in the event of remarriage, two years of benefits must be paid in a lump sum. In case where widow requested lump sum of what would amount to ten years of benefits, WCC held that lump sum, if otherwise appropriate, was not necessarily limited to two years of benefits, though the possibility that claimant might remarry is a significant factor that would be taken into consideration when determining if an advance of more than two years' benefits was justified.|
|Kimery v. State Compensation Ins. Fund [12/11/95] 1995 MTWCC 104 Widow whose death benefits were terminated upon her remarriage moved for summary judgment on her claim to reinstate benefits, arguing that District Court’s order of annulment of her remarriage ab initio was binding on State Fund. WCC denied motion, holding that District Court’s order was not binding on State Fund where it was not party to that proceeding.|