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What benefits does the Defense Base Act provide?

On Behalf of | Apr 17, 2018 | Defense Base Act |

The Defense Base Act sounds mysterious and complicated. In reality, the DBA is a workers’ compensation program that covers employees who work overseas for U.S. government contractors and subcontractors. 

Workers’ compensation is administered by the individual states, so it does not cover anything that happens overseas. Congress passed the DBA to fill that void in the workers’ compensation system. For example, the DBA would cover an individual who is working for a contractor at a U.S. military installation on foreign soil.


If a worker is injured or killed, the DBA provides benefits. In this post, we will look at what types of benefits the DBA provides to workers or their families.

Types of Defense Base Act benefits

Defense Base Act benefits fall into three main categories:

  • Disability benefits
  • Medical benefits
  • Death benefits

Compensation for total disability equals two-thirds of the employee’s weekly earnings. The maximum that can be received is $1,030.78 per week. Compensation also can be paid for partial loss of earnings.

The DBA provides medical benefits, and injured employees can select their own doctor or doctors.

DBA death benefits are “half of the employee’s average weekly earnings to the surviving spouse or to one child, and two-thirds of earnings for two or more such survivors, up to the current maximum weekly rate,” according to the official DBA website. “Permanent total disability and death benefits may be payable for life, and are subject to annual cost of living adjustments. There is no minimum compensation rate.”

How to get answers to DBA questions

Have you been injured while working overseas for a U.S. government contractor or subcontractor? Few attorneys handle Defense Base Act cases; contact an experienced DBA attorney for help.