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Home / News / Widow of MnDOT employee who died on the job gets paltry pension benefit
The paltry pension benefit that Michael Struck's widow will receive from the state is generating concerns at the Capitol. Lawmakers might consider pension changes in response to the tragedy.

Widow of MnDOT employee who died on the job gets paltry pension benefit

A monthly pension benefit that’s less than $200 for Michael Struck’s widow is generating concerns at the Capitol.

Struck, who was a Minnesota Department of Transportation employee, died in a March 22 accident while operating a backhoe. He was swept into a stream while doing flood-mitigation work at Seven Mile Creek County Park between St. Peter and Mankato.

The actuarial calculation in state law means that Struck’s widow will get $191 a month, according to Minnesota State Retirement System Executive Director Dave Bergstrom.

Struck, 39, of Cleveland, had worked for the state for about eight-and-a-half years. In addition to years of service, the actuarial process is based on the deceased age from age 65.

Policy issues in response to the tragedy could include considering a minimum death benefit for workers similar to Struck. By contrast, the widow of a state patrol officer who is killed in the line of duty receives 50 percent of final salary.

House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, who has worked on pension legislation in the past, said lawmakers should take into consideration the fact that Struck was doing flood-related work.

“When a state employee is killed in the line of duty responding to an emergency, those are special circumstances that should be considered when determining if his widow and kids deserve a larger benefit,” Thissen said.

Gov. Mark Dayton attended Struck’s funeral at the Church of St. Peter.

Update (April 1): Dayton has issued a press release calling for legislation that would increase the pension for the Struck family that’s commensurate with that of a state patrol officer killed in the line of duty. That would increase the benefit to nearly $2,000 a month. Dayton said the bill will be introduced with bipartisan support.


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