Claiming a widow's or widower's pension Unfortunately this specification of service has not yet been completely translated.

If your spouse or registered partner dies, you may in many cases be entitled to a widow's or widower's pension.

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 hardship 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 will be equal to 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% 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 that 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 less. It depends on how old your partner became. Under certain conditions, you may be entitled to a child supplement.

If you have other income above a certain tax-free amount, this will be partly 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 taken into account.

Widow's or widower's pension under the old law

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

  • It will be based on 60 percent of the deceased's or the deceased's pension 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.
  • 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: yes
Online procedure possible: yes
Written form required: yes
Personal appearance required: no








Related Links

  • Antrag auf eine Hinterbliebenenrente zum Herunterladen
  • Online-Antrag einer Hinterbliebenenrente (ohne Registrierung)
  • Zwischengespeicherten Online-Antrag öffnen

Preconditions

General requirements

  • You have not remarried

  • The deceased has paid into the pension insurance scheme for at least 5 years (general qualifying 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 civil partner for at least one year at the time of the death.

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

If you remarry, your widow's or widower's pension will stop. However, you can then claim 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 get a widow's or widower's pension.

Small widow's or widower's pension

You can get a 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 a large widow's pension if you either

  • have reached the current age limit specified above, or
  • are incapacitated for work, or
  • are bringing up your own child or a child of the deceased under the age of 18, or
  • you are caring for a disabled child of your own or of the deceased's, regardless of their age.

Widow's or widower's pension under the old legislation

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

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

In these cases, you can get the pension even if you were

  • were married for less than 1 year.

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

If you were divorced before 1 July 1977, you may, under certain conditions, receive a widow's or widower's pension even if you were already divorced.

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

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

Widow's or widower's pension for the second-last spouse

You may be entitled to a widow's or widower's pension after the death of your last but one spouse if

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

Related Links

  • § 46 Sechstes Buch Sozialgesetzbuch (SGB VI)
  • § 242a Sechstes Buch Sozialgesetzbuch (SGB VI)
  • § 243 Sechstes Buch Sozialgesetzbuch (SGB VI)
  • § 243a Sechstes Buch Sozialgesetzbuch (SGB VI)

Related Links

  • Allgemeine Informationen zu den Renten für Hinterbliebene auf der Internetseite der Deutschen Rentenversicherung
  • Informationsbroschüre zu den Hinterbliebenenrenten auf der Internetseite der Deutschen Rentenversicherung
  • Informationen zum Hinzuverdienst bei der Witwen- oder Witwerrente auf der Internetseite der Deutschen Rentenversicherung
  • Informationen zu Hinterbliebenenrenten auf der Internetseite des Bundesministeriums für Arbeit und Soziales
  • Informationsbroschüre: Ratgeber zur Rente auf der Internetseite des Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Soziales

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

Tip: Before you submit your application, you can get advice from the German Pension Insurance.

Written pension application:

  • Download the application for survivor's pension on the website of the German Pension Insurance. Fill out the application for insured person's pension and the forms mentioned therein completely and compile the required documents.
  • You can submit your completed and signed application together with the required documents to either
    • send it by post to the Deutsche Rentenversicherung or
    • hand it in at one of the local advice centres.
  • You will receive an acknowledgement of receipt.
  • Deutsche Rentenversicherung will check your application for completeness and, if necessary, request any missing documents.
  • Deutsche Rentenversicherung will check the conditions 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 will clarify other facts, for example, your health insurance relationship, whether you earn additional income or receive a different 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 eligible for the widow's or widower's pension, you will receive a rejection notice stating 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 identity 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.
  • The German Pension Insurance will check your application for completeness and request any missing documents if necessary.
  • The German Pension Insurance 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 will clarify other facts, for example, your health insurance relationship, whether you earn additional income or receive a different pension.
  • If you are entitled to a widow's or widower's pension, you will receive a pension statement 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 advice centre of the German Pension Insurance.
  • During the consultation, your application for a widow's or widower's pension will usually be recorded electronically and forwarded online.
  • Once your pension application has been received, you will receive a confirmation of receipt.
  • Deutsche Rentenversicherung will check the application for completeness and, if necessary, request any missing documents.
  • The German Pension Insurance will check 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 will also clarify 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. 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.

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 Deutsche Rentenversicherung. As long as the power of attorney is valid, it will be addressed exclusively to your authorized person.

Responsible for the content
Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs

Last update or date of publication
21.03.2020