Line of Duty Death Benefits Payments Encouraged

Under Section 651 of Public Law 104-208, at the discretion of the head of the department or agency, the personal representative of any federal employee who dies from an injury sustained in the line of duty may be paid line of duty death benefits of up to $10,000. While the payment is discretionary, the Office of the Personnel Management encourages all department and agency heads to make full use of this authority.

The death gratuity, when combined with certain other payments, may not exceed $10,000. The other payments that must be considered are:


  • the up to $800 payable by the Department of Labor to a surviving spouse or children for funeral expenses of a federal employee who died as a result of injuries sustained in the line of duty;
  • the $200 payable by the Department of Labor for reimbursement of the costs of termination of the deceased employee’s status as a federal employee; and
  • any amount paid under Public Law 103-332 to the representative of any employee of any department or agency with appropriations from a Department of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Act who is killed in the line of duty.

Section 3973 of Title 22, U.S. Code, provides for the payment of a death gratuity in an amount equal to one year of the employee’s salary at the time of death to members of the Foreign Service who died outside the United States in the performance of duty. Additionally, upon the death, certain travel and transportation benefits are provided. Benefits under this provision are payable in addition to any benefits payable under the Federal Employees Compensation Act.

Death in contingency operation

5 U.S.C. 8102 authorizes the payment of a $100,000 death benefit for survivors of a federal employee, including a non-appropriated fund employee, who dies of injuries incurred in connection with the employee’s service with an armed forces contingency operation. The benefit is administered by the Labor Department office of workers’ compensation, which has a form that is to be given to all employees who are deployed or will be deployed into such an area in order to designate a beneficiary. If none is designated, a standard order of precedence will be followed. The benefit must be offset by any payments made under separate authorities, including the payments described above.

Presentation of flag

Under PL 112-73, agencies may present an American flag to the next of kin of an employee who dies of a cause related to the performance of official duties or because of the person’s status as a federal employee, arising from criminal actions, terrorism, natural disasters and certain other circumstances. This does not provide authority for military-type funeral honors.

Relocation of family members

Section 1103 of Public Law 110-181 authorizes the payment of relocation benefits to dependents of a federal civilian employee who was party to a mandatory mobility agreement at the time of death within the area of responsibility of the Commander of the United States Central Command. The relocation may be to the home of record, whether the dependents are living overseas or in the continental United States.


Also, 5 U.S.C. 5724 authorizes the head of the concerned agency to pay the moving, transportation, and relocation expenses attributable to a change of residence within the United States of the immediate family of covered employees, including any federal law enforcement officer, FBI employee, or Customs and Border Protection officer, who dies in the performance of official duties, as well as expenses of preparing and transporting the remains of the deceased to the place where the family will reside following the employee’s death or another place for interment. See 41 CFR 303-70.

Public safety officers

The Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program ( pays a benefit of about $390,000, inflation adjusted annually, to specified survivors of public safety officers found to have died as the direct and proximate result of a personal injury, traumatic injury involving external force sustained in the line of duty, and to officers found to have been permanently and totally disabled as the direct result of a catastrophic injury sustained in the line of duty. The death benefit is offset by any other federal employment-related death benefit paid.

A public safety officer is defined to be any individual serving a public agency in an official capacity, with or without compensation, as a law enforcement officer, police, corrections, probation, parole and judicial officer, firefighter, rescue squad member or ambulance crew member.