The survivors’ pension replaces income that is lost when a family wage earner dies. There are two survivors’ pensions: the surviving spouse’s pension and the orphan’s pension.
Under certain conditions, the earnings-related surivors’ pensions are paid to
- children under the age of 18
- the widow/widower, and
- a former spouse.
If you are cohabiting, you do not have the right to a surviving spouse’s pension.
The survivors’ pension starts at the beginning of the month after the family wage earner has died. If you delay your application for a survivors’ pension, the pension can be paid retroactively for no more than six months. Only for valid reasons can it be paid retroactively for a longer period of time.
Conditions for a surviving spouse’s pension
If you are married or in a registered partnership, you can be granted a surviving spouse’s pension when your spouse or partner dies. You must meet these conditions:
- you and your spouse have or have had a child together,
- you were married to your spouse at the time of their death, and
- you married before your spouse turned 65.
If your former spouse or partner dies and they were paying you alimony at the time of their death, you may also be able get a surviving spouse’s pension.
You may get the surviving spouse’s pension for the rest of your life, but there are some rules that might change or end your surviving spouse’s pension.
- If you remarry before you turn 50, your surviving spouse’s pension will end. You will get a lump-sum payment equal to three years of your surviving spouse’s pension.
- If you remarry after you turn 50, you will continue to get your surviving spouse’s pension.
Conditions for surviving spouse’s pension when you are childless
If you and your spouse do not have or have not had a child together, you are entitled to the surviving spouse’s pension if you meet these conditions:
- you were married before you turned 50 and your spouse turned 65,
- you were married for at least five years before your spouse died, and
- you were at least 50 years of age when your spouse died or you had received a disability pension under the earnings-related pension laws or the national pension laws for at least three years.
If you are a childless widow or widower born before 1 July 1950, you may qualify for the surviving spouse’s pension. To qualify, you must have married before you 1 July 1990. You may qualify even if you married after you turned 50.
Conditions for orphan’s pension
A child under the age of 18 has the right to get an orphan’s pension if:
- a parent dies, or
- a step-parent that the child lived with dies.
The same rules apply to a child or a parent in a registered partnership.
The orphan’s pension, intended to help provide for the child, ends when the child turns 18 or is adopted.
How much is the pension?
The survivors’ pension is based on the pension of your spouse or registered partner who has died.
If your spouse or registered partner was still in paid employment (not retired) when they died, the survivors’ pension is based on the value of the disability pension that they would have got on the day of their death.
At most, you will get up to half of your spouse’s pension. The pension amount depends on how many children you have. When your youngest child turns 18, your own income from work or income from pensions in your own right will affect the amount of the surviving spouse’s pension.
The amount of your surviving spouse’s pension depends also on whether a former spouse has the right to receive a surviving spouse’s pension.
How your own pension affects your surviving spouse’s pension
When your surviving spouse’s pension is calculated, your own earnings-related pensions will be taken into account.
Your own earnings-related pensions are taken into account in full. If you are not retired yet, a computational pension is taken into account. The computational pension is a pension which you would have received if you had become disabled when your spouse died.
With this calculator you can estimate how your income will affect your surviving spouse’s pension
Your surviving spouse’s pension will be reduce immediately when it starts if you were over 65 years old when your spouse died, or if you receive an earnings-related pension and you do not have a child that is under 18 years.
If you work and do not have children under the age of 18, you will receive a surviving spouse’s pension for six months without reductions. This pension is also known as the initial pension. After six months, your pension will be reduced. In other words, your computational pension will be compared to the pension of your deceased spouse.
Your surviving spouse’s pension will be reduced if your own earnings-related or computational pension is higher than the basis for the reduction, as stated by law. In 2020, that limit is 723 euros per month.
If your own pension exceeds the basis for the reduction, your surviving spouse’s pension will be reduced by half of the excess amount.
If your own computational earnings-related pension differs significantly from your actual income as a result of, for example, unemployment, you can apply for the comparison to be made to your actual income.
Amount of orphan’s pension
The amount of the orphan’s pension depends on how many children are beneficiaries. If there are several beneficiaries, each child will receive their own equal proportion of the orphan’s pension.
|How the survivors’ pension is divided between the surviving spouse and the children|
|Number of children||The surviving spouse’s share||The children’s share|
|4 or more||17%||83%|
If the income of your family is low, the survivors’ pensions paid by Kela will supplement your earnings-related survivors’ pensions. The basic orphan’s pension is always paid to your children under the age of 18. If you are under the age of 65 and do not receive a pension yet, you will be paid an initial pension for six months.
You may also be entitled to survivors’ pensions from the statutory workers’ compensation insurance and the motor liability insurance (LITA). If you were in a domestic relationship, you may also have the right to these pensions. The LITA pensions are primary in relation to survivors’ pensions based on the earnings-related pension acts. That means that they are always paid first and the LITA pensions are deducted from your earnings-related pensions.
Your family’s income may also be improved with private pensions or life insurance.
If your deceased spouse worked in an EU/EEA country or in a country with which Finland has signed a social security agreement, your family may have the right to survivors’ pensions from these countries, as well.
If your deceased spouse was under 65 years and worked in an employment relationship, your family may be entitled to compensation from a group life insurance from the Employees’ Group Life Insurance Pool. If your deceased spouse was self-employed, your family is not entitled to this compensation.