Widow's and widower's pension from the statutory pension insurance; application

If your spouse or registered partner dies, in many cases you can receive a widow's or widower's pension.

Description

The widow's or widower's pension supports you in the event of the death of your partner. It can help to cushion the financial hardships often associated with this. The regulations apply equally to surviving spouses and registered partners.

A widow's or widower's pension is paid from the pension account of the deceased. The amount of your widow's or widower's pension depends on this pension account.

In the first three calendar months after death, your widow's or widower's pension is as high as the pension of the deceased (known as the quarter of death).

Large and small widow's pension

You will then receive the so-called large or small widow's or widower's pension.

  • Large widow's and widower's pension: You receive 55 percent of the pension that the deceased was receiving or would have received at the time of death.
  • Small widow's and widower's pension: you receive 25 percent of the pension the deceased was receiving or would have received at the time of death. This pension is usually paid for a maximum of 24 months.

Due to deductions, the pension paid to you may be lower. It depends on how old your partner became. Under certain conditions, you may receive a child supplement.

If you have other income that exceeds a certain tax-free amount, this will be partially offset against your widow's or widower's pension. The amount of the tax-free amount is calculated individually. Exception: In the first three calendar months (death quarter) after death, your own income will not be offset.

Widow's or widower's pension under old law

The laws governing widow's or widower's pensions were changed starting in 2002. Depending on the date of death and your marriage or civil partnership, you may be eligible for a widow's or widower's pension under old law. The calculation may then differ:

  • 60 percent of the deceased's or the deceased's pension is used as a basis instead of 55 percent.
  • You may also receive the small widow's or widower's pension for an unlimited period.
  • Fewer types of income are taken into account.
  • There is no child supplement.

Prerequisites

General requirements

  • You have not remarried

  • The deceased has paid into the pension insurance for at least 5 years (general waiting period) or has already received a pension.

    • Exception: if your partner had an accident at work, for example, shorter periods may be sufficient.
  • You had been married or a life partner for at least one year at the time of death.

    • Exception: Sometimes it is sufficient if you were married for less than one year. This applies, for example, if your partner died in an accident.

If you remarry, your widow's or widower's pension will end. However, you can then apply for a settlement to help you start a new phase in your life.

If you had decided as a couple to share your pension rights (pension splitting), you cannot receive a widow's or widower's pension.

Small widow's or widower's pension

You can receive the small widow's pension if

  • You are younger than the current age limit:

    • Age limit at death in 2020: 45 years and 9 months.
    • This age limit will gradually increase to 47 years by 2029.
  • you are not incapacitated for work and

  • You are not raising a child under age 18.

Large widow's or widower's pension

You can receive the large widow's pension if you either

  • have reached the current age limit specified above, or
  • are incapacitated for work, or
  • are raising your own child or a child of the deceased under the age of 18, or
  • are caring for a disabled own child or child of the deceased, regardless of age.

Widow's or widower's pension under old law

You may be entitled to a widow's or widower's pension under the old law if

  • your partner died before January 1, 2002, or
  • you were married before January 1, 2002, and
  • your partner was born before January 2, 1962.

In these cases, you may receive the pension even if you were

  • were married for less than 1 year.

Widow's or widower's pension to spouses divorced before July 1, 1977.

If your marriage was divorced before July 1, 1977, you may also, under certain conditions

  • even if you are already divorced, or
  • in the case of a renewed marriage or partnership that has been dissolved again

you may receive a special widow's or widower's pension.

Widow's or widower's pension after the penultimate spouse

You can receive a so-called widow's or widower's pension after the second-last spouse if you

  • remarried or entered into a civil partnership after the death of your former partner, and
  • the new union has now been dissolved or terminated.

Procedure

You can apply for a widow's or widower's pension in writing, in person or via the online procedure.

Tip: Before submitting your application, you can seek advice from the German Pension Insurance.

Written pension application:

  • Download the application for a survivor's pension from the Deutsche Rentenversicherung website. Fill out the application for insured person's pension and the forms mentioned in it completely and compile the required documents.
  • You can send your completed and signed application with the required documents either
    • send it by mail to Deutsche Rentenversicherung or
    • hand it in at one of the local advice centers.
  • You will receive a confirmation of receipt.
  • Deutsche Rentenversicherung will check your application for completeness and, if necessary, request any missing documents.
  • Deutsche Rentenversicherung will check the requirements for your pension entitlement and the completeness of your insurance history. If necessary, it will clarify gaps in your insurance history.
  • The German Pension Insurance clarifies other facts, for example, your health insurance relationship, whether you earn additional income or receive another pension.
  • If you are entitled to a widow's or widower's pension, you will receive a pension notice with information on the start date, the start of the current payment and the amount. Furthermore, you will be informed about your rights and obligations.
  • If you are not entitled to the widow's or widower's pension, you will receive a rejection notice with the reason for the rejection.

Pension application via online procedure:

  • Go to the online portal of the German Pension Insurance and log in. You can use your signature card, your ID card with electronic proof of identity or your electronic residence permit for this purpose.
  • Fill out the application for survivor's pension and upload the necessary documents. Then submit your pension application online.
  • You will receive a confirmation of receipt.
  • Deutsche Rentenversicherung will check your application for completeness and request any missing documents if necessary.
  • Deutsche Rentenversicherung will check the requirements for your pension entitlement and the completeness of your insurance history. If necessary, it will clarify gaps in your insurance history.
  • The German Pension Insurance clarifies other facts, for example, your health insurance relationship, whether you earn additional income or receive another pension.
  • If you are entitled to a widow's or widower's pension, you will receive a pension notice with information on the start date, the start of the current payment and the amount. You will also be informed of your rights and obligations.
  • If you are not entitled to a widow's or widower's pension, you will receive a rejection notice stating the reason for the rejection.

Personal application during the consultation:

  • Compile the necessary documents for the application and make an appointment at an information and counseling center of the German Pension Insurance.
  • During the consultation, your application for a widow's or widower's pension will usually be recorded electronically right away and forwarded online.
  • When your pension application has arrived, you will receive a confirmation of receipt.
  • Deutsche Rentenversicherung will check the application for completeness and, if necessary, request any missing documents.
  • Deutsche Rentenversicherung checks the requirements for your pension entitlement and your insurance history for completeness. If necessary, it will clarify gaps in your insurance history.
  • The German Pension Insurance clarifies other facts, for example, your health insurance relationship, whether you earn additional income or receive an accident pension.
  • If you are entitled to a widow's or widower's pension, you will receive a pension notice with information on the start date, the start of the current payment and the amount. Furthermore, you will be informed about your rights and obligations.
  • If you are not entitled to the widow's or widower's pension, you will receive a rejection notice with the reason for the rejection.

A person you trust can also submit the pension application on your behalf. For this purpose, please submit a corresponding power of attorney to the German Pension Insurance. As long as the power of attorney is valid, it will be addressed exclusively to your authorized person.

Deadlines

Payment of the pension: If the deceased

  • already received a pension of his or her own, your widow's or widower's pension will begin no earlier than the month following the date of death.
  • has not yet received a pension of his or her own, your widow's or widower's pension will begin on the date of death.

Application deadlines:

  • File your application no later than 12 calendar months after the date of death.
  • If you apply later, the pension will not start until the month of application.

Processing time

  • small widows' and widowers' pensions: usually 4 months
  • large widows' and widowers' pensions: usually 3 months.

Note: If your partner has already received a pension, you can apply for an advance during the first 30 days after the death. To do so, contact Deutsche Post's pension service with the death certificate and submit the formal pension application later. You must be entered as the survivor on the death certificate.

Required documents

  • Required Documents

    • valid identity card or passport

    • Evidence that is not recorded in the survivor's insurance history, for example:

      • Offset certificates
      • Evidence of periods of training
      • Proof of unemployment
      • Proof of periods of illness
    • Death certificate

    • Marriage certificate

    • Details of your income

    • Last pension adjustment notification of the deceased or other pension documents

Forms

  • Form, Bavaria-wide: Antrag auf eine Hinterbliebenenrente zum Herunterladen
    Please note

    This form has to be signed and sent to the responsible authority. You can sign the form manually and send it by email/fax or sign the form electronically with your qualified electronic signature an send it by (secure) email. If the responsible authority has set up a De-Mail account, you can also send the form by De-Mail using an sender-confirmed message.

Online procedures

Fees

  • none

Status: 21.01.2023

Responsible for editing: Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Soziales

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