Survivors’ pension offers security for the family

After the death of a family wage earner, the income of the surviving family members is usually secured by several different social security benefits. In addition to the survivors’ pension benefits paid from the earnings-related pension scheme, the family members may be entitled to

  • the survivors’ pension from the national pension scheme,
  • a survivors’ pension paid on the basis of the employment of the deceased in EU/EEA countries or other social security agreement countries,
  • a survivors’ pension paid from the workers’ compensation insurance or the motor liability insurance, or
  • compensation from the Employees’ Group Life Insurance Pool.

The initial pension and the basic amount of the orphan’s pension paid from the national pension scheme are paid regardless of income. The continuing pension of a surviving spouse and the supplement to the orphan’s pension are income-tested.

The workers’ compensation insurance and the motor liability insurance are statutory, and their benefits are primary in relation to earnings-related pensions. The Employees’ Group Life Insurance covers nearly all wage-earners and entitles to a flat-rate lump-sum compensation.

In addition to statutory and occupational insurance, the insurance cover may be topped up with a supplementary pension taken out by the employer, private pension insurance or life insurance.

Survivors’ pension to surviving spouse and children

There are two parts to the survivors’ pension paid from the earnings-related pension scheme: the surviving spouse’s pension and the orphan’s pension. If the deceases was insured under the Seafarer’s Pensions Act and died before the age of 67, the beneficiaries are entitled also to a funeral grant based on the age of the deceased.

Under certain conditions, the survivors’ pension is paid to the deceased person’s spouse and former spouse. Same-sex parties to a registered relationship are comparable to married spouses. The deceased person’s children under the age of 18 are entitled to an orphan’s pension.

The surviving spouse or the former spouse is entitled to a surviving spouse’s pension if

  • the surviving spouse has, or has had, a child (biological or adopted) together with the deceased and the spouses married before the deceased reached the age of 65, or
  • the spouses married before the deceased reached the age of 65 and the surviving spouse reached the age of 50, providing
    • the marriage has continued for at least five years, and
    • the surviving spouse has reached the age of 50 at the time of the spouse’s death or has been incapacitated for work for a long time.

The former spouse of the deceased is entitled to a surviving spouse’s pension under the same conditions as the surviving spouse if the deceased was liable to pay alimony to the former spouse on the basis of a legally valid decision.

If the surviving spouse remarries before reaching the age of 50, the pension ends.

A child (biological or adopted) of the deceased will receive an orphan’s pension until the age of 18. Similarly, the orphan’s pension ends if the child is given up for adoption to another party than the surviving spouse or his or her spouse.

The biological or adopted child of the surviving spouse may be entitled to an orphan’s pension if the child shared the same household with the surviving spouse and the deceased. However, the child is entitled to an orphan’s pension only after two deceased persons simultaneously.

Further information

Number of beneficiaries affects pension amount

The basis of the survivors’ pension is the deceased person’s earnings-related pension. If the deceased did not receive a pension or drew a partial disability pension or a part-time pension, the survivor’s pension is calculated on the basis of the pension amount which the deceased would have received had they been entitled to a full disability pension at the time of their death.

As of the beginning of 2010, the life expectancy coefficient affects the old-age or disability pension that the survivors’ pension is based on.

The disability pension that forms the basis of the survivor’s pension is increased by the the lump-sum increase normally made after five years of disability if the increase was not made earlier to the pension of the deceased.

The survivors’ pension is calculated based on the deceased person’s pension right and is affected by the number of beneficiaries. At most, the amount of the survivors’ pension and the orphan’s pensions is the size of the pension of the deceased.

The surviving spouse’s and the children’s share of the pension

 No of children   0  1   2     4-
 Surviving spouse’s pension  6/12  6/12  5/12  3/12  2/12
 Orphan’s pension  –  4/12  7/12  9/12  10/12
 Total  6/12   10/12  12/12  12/12  12/12

Reduction of surviving spouse’s pension

The purpose of the survivors’ pension is to compensate for the financial loss caused by the death of a family wage earner. In order for the surviving spouse’s income to correspond to the level prior to the death of the other spouse, a deduction is made to the surviving spouse’s pension based on their own pension or the calculated disability pension.

The surviving spouse’s pension is reduced when one of the following happens:

  • the youngest child turns 18,
  • a childless surviving spouse under the age of 65 has received an initial pension for six months, or
  • the surviving spouse is over 65 years or a pensioner.

The surviving spouse’s pension is reduced if their own pension amounts to more than 694.50 euros (in 2017). The amount of the deduction made to the full surviving spouse’s pension is half of the difference between the surviving spouse’s own pension and the above-mentioned limit.

In some cases, no survivor’s pension is paid due to the surviving spouse’s own income. The deduction usually affects the amount of the surviving spouse’s pension paid to the widower since, on average, men’s income is higher than women’s. In nearly every fourth case, the male surviving spouse receives no surviving spouse’s pension at all due to the deduction of the survivors’ pension. For female surviving spouses, the equivalent share is about three per cent.

In 2015, the average surviving spouse’s pension was EUR 532/month. On average, the surviving spouse’s pension for a man is one third of that for a woman.

With this calculator you can estimate how your income will affect your surviving spouse’s pension.