Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Contributory) Pension


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Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Contributory) Pension is a weekly payment to the husband, wife or civil partner of a deceased person. This payment was formerly called the Widow's/Widower's (Contributory) Pension. Either you or your deceased spouse or civil partner must have enough social insurance contributions (PRSI).

To qualify you must, of course, be a widow, widower or surviving civil partner and you must not be cohabiting with another person.

If you are divorced and you would have been entitled to a Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Contributory) Pension had you remained married, you keep your entitlement to the Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Contributory) Pension.

If your civil partnership has been dissolved and you would have been entitled to a Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Contributory) Pension had you remained in the civil partnership, you keep your entitlement to the Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Contributory) Pension.

The pension is payable regardless of other income.

From 27 December 2013 new applicants for Widow's, Widow(er)'s Contributory Pension and Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension need 260 paid PRSI contributions to qualify (formerly 156 contributions were required). You can read Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about this pension on welfare.ie.

Rules

You may automatically qualify for a Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Contributory) Pension if your late spouse or civil partner was getting either a State Pension (Transition) or State Pension (Contributory), which included an increase for a dependent spouse or civil partner (or would have included an increase but for the fact that you were getting State Pension (Non-Contributory), Blind Pension or Carer's Allowance).

There is no automatic qualification if your late spouse or civil partner was getting a mixed insurance pro-rata, EU/Bilateral Agreement pro-rata or Pre-53 pension. In all such cases you should apply for Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner’s Contributory Pension in the normal way.

If you do not automatically qualify for a Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Contributory) Pension, then either you or your late spouse or civil partner must have a certain number of PRSI contributions.

Social insurance contributions (PRSI)

To qualify for a Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Contributory) Pension, either you or your late spouse or civil partner must have a certain number of PRSI contributions. All the PRSI requirements must be met on one person's record - you may not combine the contributions of both spouses or civil partners. All must have been made before the death of the spouse or civil partner.

Virtually all PRSI contributions count towards this pension, including contributions paid by public servants and the self-employed.

Either you or your spouse or civil partner must have:

  • At least 260 paid contributions paid before the relevant date*

And

  • An average of 39 paid or credited contributions in either the 3 or 5 years before the death of the spouse or civil partner or before he or she reached pension age (66)

Or

  • A yearly average of at least 24 paid or credited contributions from the year of first entry into insurance until the year of death or reaching pension age. If this average is used then an average of 24 will entitle you to a minimum pension, you will need an average of 48 per year to get the full pension.

*The relevant date is the earliest of the following dates:

  • The date your spouse or civil partner died
  • Your spouse’s or civil partner’s 66th birthday, if their social insurance record is used
  • Your 66th birthday, if your social insurance record is used

If your spouse or civil partner died before 27 December 2013, only 156 paid contributions are required. However the yearly average condition must still be satisfied.

Contributions paid in other EU member states

If you were previously insurably employed in a country covered by EU Regulations or in a country with which Ireland has a Bilateral Social Security Agreement and you have paid at least one full rate PRSI contribution in Ireland, you may combine your insurance record in that country with your Irish PRSI contributions to help you qualify for Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Contributory) Pension.

More information is available in our document about combining your social insurance contributions from abroad.

Other earnings

Since this is a contributory pension, you may earn any amount of money from any other source and still remain entitled to this pension. It is taxable. If it is your only source of income, you are unlikely to have to pay tax.

You cannot get a Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension at the same time as a State Pension (Contributory). If you are entitled to both payments you will be paid whichever is the higher amount. If you wish to receive the lower amount, you should contact the Department of Social Protection (see 'Where to apply' below).

You cannot get a training allowance from SOLAS (formerly FÁS) at the same time as a Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s Contributory Pension.

You cannot get a Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension and half- rate Jobseeker's Benefit, Illness Benefit or Incapacity Supplement. However, you can get a Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension and half-rate Maternity Benefit, Health and Safety Benefit, Adoptive Benefit and Carer's Allowance if you also qualify for one of these payments.

From 16 January 2012, you cannot get a Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension in addition to full payment on a Community Employment Scheme. You will be paid by the CE sponsor and your payment will be the equivalent of your previous personal rate of Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension plus €20 per week.

You can claim Family Income Supplement (if you meet the criteria) and get a Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Contributory Pension at the same time. Your widow's pension is assessed as means.

Duration

The pension remains payable while you remain widowed or a surviving civil partner. If you re-marry, enter a new civil partnership or start to cohabit, it is no longer payable.

You may get increases for qualified children with your pension - these remain payable while the child is aged under 18 and they may then be continued until age 22 if the child is in full-time education.

Other payments for widowed people and surviving civil partners

Under the Occupational Injuries Scheme, a widow's, widower's or surviving civil partner's pension may be payable if the death was due to an occupational injury or disease.

People getting a Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Contributory) Pension are eligible for the Household Benefits Package if they meet the usual conditions.

If your spouse or partner was getting a Household Benefits Package when they died you can keep the package if you are aged 60 or over (even though you do not meet the usual age requirement).

Rates

The maximum payment in 2014:

Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Contributory) Pension Maximum weekly rate
Widow/widower/surviving civil partner (under 66) €193.50
Widow/widower/surviving civil partner (aged 66 and under 80) €230.30
Widow/widower/surviving civil partner (aged 80 and over) €240.30
Increase for qualified child €29.80

Reduced rates may be payable if your contribution record is less than the maximum required.

A claim for Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s Contributory Pension may be backdated for a maximum period of 6 months. Backdating of a late claim beyond 6 months will be considered in circumstances where you failed to claim because of:
  • Incorrect information being supplied by the Department or
  • Your incapacity by illness or infirmity

Where to apply

Department of Social Protection

Social Welfare Services
College Road
Sligo
Ireland

Opening Hours:This office does not offer a service to personal callers. All queries must be made using the online enquiry form, by telephone or in writing.
Tel:(071) 915 7100
Locall:1890 500 000
Homepage: http://www.welfare.ie/

You can email the Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Contributory) Pension section using the secure enquiry form. If you wish to talk to someone face-to-face about your pension entitlements, you can visit your local Citizens Information centre, social welfare local office or Intreo centre.

Last modified:01/04/2014
 

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