Survivors' pension, i.e. child's (orphan's) and surviving spouse's pension

The act on survivors’ pension was amended as of 1 January 2022. The maximum age for child's (orphan’s) pension rose to 20 years and surviving common-law spouses became entitled to surviving spouse’s pension. There were no changes applicable to surviving spouse’s pensions that had been granted at an earlier time.

Changes in survivors’ pension

These changes will take effect as of 2022:

  • Child's (orphan’s) pension will continue longer than before, until the age of 20.
  • The continuation of child’s pension until the age of 20 also applies to child’s pension that was already granted if the person turns 18 after the new act takes effect on 1 January 2022. For these persons, Varma has issued a decision early in the year, based on which child’s pension continues to be paid. 
  • The child’s pension continues until the age of 18 if the person turns 18 before the new act takes effect on 1 January 2022.
  • The amendment to law does not affect any surviving spouse’s pensions that have already been granted.
  • New surviving spouse’s pensions will be granted as fixed-term if the widowed person was born in or after 1975. If there are children entitled to orphan’s pension, the surviving spouse’s pension will however continue until the youngest child turns 18. For widowed persons who were born before 1975, surviving spouse’s pension is granted until further notice, as before.
  • A common-law spouse is entitled to surviving spouse’s pension if the spouses have an underage child together and the common-law spouses have lived in the same household for five years immediately preceding the deceased person’s death.

After a common-law spouse’s death, the widowed common-law spouse receives surviving spouse’s pension if the common-law spouses have an underage child together and cohabitation started before the deceased turned 65 and they have lived in the same household for at least five years immediately preceding the deceased persons’ death. An additional requirement is that the underage child has at some point lived together with the child’s parents.

A common-law spouse may continue to receive surviving spouse’s pension until the youngest child turns 18. A common-law spouse who has no underage children is not entitled to surviving spouse’s pension.

The new legislation applies to new surviving spouse’s pensions if the deceased died in or after 2022.

Conditions for receiving survivors’ pension

According to the amendment that entered into force 1 January 2022, survivors’ pension can be received after the deceased person’s death by:

  • a child under 20 years of age
  • a spouse or the surviving partner of a registered couple
  • an ex-spouse to whom the deceased has paid support payments (does not apply to support payments made for a child)
  • a widowed common-law spouse if the spouses have an underage child together and the spouses have lived in the same household for 5 years immediately preceding the deceased person’s death.

The new legislation applies to new surviving spouse’s pensions if the deceased died in or after 2022.

The pension is determined by the number of beneficiaries (applicants) and is at maximum equal to the deceased person’s earnings-related pension.

Survivors'pension

How to apply for child's (orphan’s) pension as survivors’ pension

A child under 20 (until 31.12.2021 a child under 18) receives child's (orphan’s) pension as survivors’ pension after the death of

  • his/her own parents
  • his/her adoptive parents
  • his/her stepmother or stepfather. If the spouse of the child’s own parent dies, a requirement for orphan’s pension is that the child’s own parent was married to or in a registered partnership with the deceased and that the child lived in the same household with them when the deceased died.

A child's (orphan’s) pension application must be completed online in the online service separately for each child. Young people who have turned 18, but not yet 20, must personally complete their own application for orphan’s pension if the deceased died on or after 1 January 2022. The same application can also be used to apply for orphan’s pension from Kela.

It is a good idea to apply for child’s pension as soon as possible after the person’s death, because survivors’ pension can be applied for retroactively for no more than six months. Apply for child’s pension from the company where the deceased was insured or received earnings-related pension from.

The application form asks for the recipient’s bank account number in IBAN format, and it includes questions about the deceased’s employment relationships and other pensions.


Fill in an application for child’s pension in Varma Online Service

 

Applying for surviving spouse’s pension

Apply for surviving spouse’s pension from Varma if the deceased received earnings-related pension from Varma and the last month of his/her earnings were mostly insured by Varma. Kela (the Social Insurance Institution of Finland) pays surviving spouse’s pension only for surviving spouses under the age of 65. You can apply for surviving spouse’s pension from Kela using the same application you use to apply for surviving spouse’s pension from Varma.

In addition to the application form, you must also fill in Appendix U (Residence and employment abroad) if you or the deceased person worked or lived abroad.It is a good idea to apply for surviving spouse’s pension as soon as possible after the person’s death, because survivors’ pension can be applied for retroactively for no more than six months.

In the application, you will be asked to provide your bank account number in IBAN format. You will also be asked to enter the date of your marriage, as well as information about the deceased’s and your last job or pension.


Fill in the application for surviving spouse’s pension in Varma Online Service

Widowed person's right to survivors’ pension

There are some prerequisites for receiving surviving spouse’s pension. In order for a widowed person to be entitled to survivors’ pension, the deceased person must have been under 65 years of age when the marriage was contracted or when the cohabitation in a common-law relationship started.

If the spouses have children together (including adult children), the surviving spouse is entitled to survivors’ pension. The surviving spouse’s pension may be reduced if they no longer have children under the age of 18. If the spouses have no children together, the surviving spouse’s pension is subject to, among other things, the ages of the deceased and the surviving spouse at the time of their marriage, and the duration of their marriage.

A prerequisite for surviving spouse’s pension granted on the basis of a common-law relationship is that the common-law spouses have an underage child together and they have lived in the same household for a sufficient time before the deceased’s death. Surviving spouse’s pension may be granted on the basis of a common-law relationship if the deceased died after the new law entered into force at the beginning of 2022.

Take this quiz to see if you would be entitled to surviving spouse’s pension under the current rules 2022 onwards. 

PDF applications

If you cannot file an electronic application, use the application forms that are available on the website Työeläke.fi. Fill in the form preferably on your computer screen, print it out and sign it. You can send in an application either by post to Varma, P.O. Box 3, FI-00098 VARMA, or you can scan your signed application and send it via secure email.


Application for surviving spouse’s pension
Application for orphan’s pension

Appendix U (Residence and employment abroad
Instructions: Information for pension applicants

How to send a secure email to Varma

Send the PDF survivors’ pension application in a secure message via https://turvaposti.varma.fi.
1. In the “Lähettäjä” field, enter your email address.
2. Click “Jatka” to continue and enter the subject and your message, and attach any required files. Click “Lähetä” to send the message.

Calculate an estimate of the amount of surviving spouse’s pension

The maximum amount of surviving spouse’s pension is half of the deceased’s pension. When pension is granted on the basis of marriage or registered partnership, the amount of the widowed person’s own earnings-related pension may affect the amount of the surviving spouse’s pension to be granted.

Use the calculator to estimate the amount of surviving spouse’s pension when the only beneficiary is the widowed person. A widowed common-law spouse is not eligible to surviving spouse’s pension if there are no underage children, which is why the calculator does not apply to the situation of a widowed common-law spouse.

When is surviving spouse’s pension reduced?

  • The surviving spouse was over the age of 65 or retired at the time of his/her spouse’s death: The reduction is made from the start of the survivors’ pension.
  • The surviving spouse is under 65 and has not retired: The surviving spouse initially receives half of the deceased’s pension for six months. A reduction will be made only after six months have passed since the start of the surviving spouse’s pension.
  • The youngest child turns 18: The reduction is made from the first day of the month after the child’s birthday.
  • The surviving spouse is granted his/her own earnings-related pension: A new reduction is made based on the surviving spouse’s actual earnings-related pension.

The reduction of surviving spouse’s pension does not apply to a widowed common-law spouse because the widowed common-law spouse’s right to surviving spouse’s pension ends when the children are no longer underage.

Decision on surviving spouse’s pension

The application processing time varies, but it is currently around good two weeks. If you have also applied for pension from Kela, or you or the deceased  have/ has lived or worked abroad the processing time will be longer.

If the beneficiaries of the survivors’ pension are both the surviving spouse and children under 18, the pension will be divided between the beneficiaries. If there are no children under 18 and the surviving spouse is under 65, he/she will be granted an initial pension for a period of six months. The initial pension is half of the deceased person’s pension. After six months, the surviving spouse’s own earnings-related pension is taken into account in the amount of surviving spouse’s pension. If the surviving spouse does not yet receive earnings-related pension, the amount used is the calculated amount of earnings-related pension

The right to surviving spouse’s pension is determined based on criteria that vary depending on the group

The legislative amendment concerning surviving spouse’s pension determines the criteria for entitlement to surviving spouse’s pension and the time period for which pension is paid. If the deceased died before 1 January 2022, the acts on survivors’ pension valid at the given time are applied. If the deceased died on or after 1 January 2022, the new act on survivors’ pension that took effect on 1 January 2022 is applied.

Such surviving spouse’s pensions will continue to be paid until further notice and the new legislation will not affect them. The previous criteria for surviving spouse’s pension included, for example, marriage or registered partnership. Pursuant to the previous legislation, a widowed common-law spouse was not entitled to surviving spouse’s pension.

If the widowed person meets the criteria for receiving surviving spouse’s pension, the widowed person is granted surviving spouse’s pension for a fixed period of 10 years. If a child under 18 years of age is also a beneficiary, surviving spouse’s pension will continue at least until the child turns 18.

 

If the widowed person meets the criteria for receiving surviving spouse’s pension, the widowed person is granted surviving spouse’s pension until further notice.

If the widowed person meets the criteria for receiving surviving spouse’s pension, surviving spouse’s pension will continue until the child turns 18.

More detailed criteria for receiving surviving spouse’s pension is available in the brochure Survivors’ pension 2022. You can also use the “Widowed person’s right to survivors’ pension” tool, the questions and answers of which help you understand whether you are entitled to surviving spouse’s pension.

Help with using our services

Take care of your pension matters online

In our online service, you can, for instance

  • fill in an application for surviving spouse’s pension or orphan’s pension (i.e. survivors’ pension) 
  • see which processing phase your surviving spouse’s pension application is in
  • see Varma’s decision
  • use the services for pensioners once you have received a decision
  • send and receive messages and attachments.
Log in to Varma Online Service