Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion

France - Benefits for surviving spouses

In what situation can I claim?

The surviving spouse's allowances include:

  • the survivor's pension (pension de reversion), which corresponds to a proportion of the pension which the deceased person could have received. It is paid to the surviving spouse or ex-spouse;
  • the widowhood allowance (allocation de veuvage), which is paid to you, depending on your income, if you do not meet the conditions of age in order to benefit from a survivor's pension;
  • the death grant (capital décès), which guarantees the payment of a sum to your family from a deceased employee, under certain conditions linked to the latter. 

What conditions do I need to meet?

Survivor's pension

  • you must have been a married to the deceased beneficiary (the Pacs civil partnership and cohabitation do not entitle the partner to the survivor's pension);
  • you must be at least 55 years old. This age may be reduced in certain cases (death or disappearance before 2009);
  • your gross annual income must not exceed €20,550.40 if you live alone, or €32,880.64 if you live with a partner.

The survivor's pension may be granted to you, even if your spouse or ex-spouse died before retirement or before reaching the minimum retirement age.

Widowhood allowance

  • your income over the 3 calendar months before your application must not exceed €2,278.28, i.e. €759.43 per month;
  • your spouse must have contributed to the pension fund for at least 3 months, either continuously or not, during the year before his or her death;
  • you must be less than 55 years old;
  • you must not live in a couple (remarriage, marital life, Pacs);
  • you must live in France (apart from with voluntary old-age insurance).

Death grant

So that the death grant can be paid, the deceased party had, less than 3 months before their death, to be in the one of the following situations:

  • employed, and on the date of the death, justifying a professional activity allowing the entitlement to sickness benefits;
  • an unemployed person receiving unemployment benefits;
  • beneficiary of an annuity for an occupational accident or occupational illness for a disability level of at least 66.66%;
  • beneficiary of a disability pension;
  • already holding these rights.

What am I entitled to and how can I claim?

Survivor's pension

The survivor's pension is equal to 54% of the basic pension from which your deceased spouse or ex-spouse benefited (or could have benefited, without taking into account any possible increases from which they benefited).

Pensions increase:

  • 10% if you have raised at least 3 children;
  • 11.1% if you have reached the age for obtaining a full pension (i.e. the legal pension age plus 5 years), have exercised your rights to a pension, and if the monthly total of your pensions does not exceed €860.08;
  • €97.07 per month if you have at least one dependent child.

If your deceased spouse has been married several times, the survivor's pension is shared between you and the divorced ex-spouse(s). This division is proportional to the duration of each marriage.

If your spouse or ex-spouse made 15 years (60 quarters) of contributions to the general pension scheme, the minimum amount of your survivor's pension is €3,433.72 per year. If the deceased had contributed for less than 15 years, this minimum total is reduced proportionally.

The amount of your survivor's pension cannot exceed €10,727.64 per year.

Your survivor's pension may be revised up or down (or even suspended) in case of changes in your income. However, it can no longer be revised 3 months after the actual date of your basic and supplementary personal pensions, or if you do not have the right to these personal pensions, on the 1st day of the month after the statutory retirement age (62 years for persons born after 1955).

Widowhood allowance

  • The monthly net amount of the widowhood allowance is €607.54.
  • The total may be reduced, depending on your income.
  • In the event of remunerated training, or in case of resumption of a professional activity, you may cumulate the incomes received with the widowhood allowance up to a certain limit, and for a certain time.
  • You receive the widowhood allowance as long as you satisfy the conditions, and at most for 2 years (or until your 55th birthday if you were 50 years old or more when your spouse died).

Death grant

For any death occurred on or after January 1, 2015, the amount of the death grant corresponds to a lump sum annually adjusted. On 1 April 2017, it is equal to €3,415. 

Jargon busters

  • Pacs: Civil solidarity pact. This is an agreement made between two adults, of different sexes or the same sex, in order to formalise their lives together.
  • CARSAT: Pension fund and health at work. Pension fund under the general system at the regional level (except Île-de-France).
  • CNAV: National pension fund. Pension fund depending on the general system at the national and regional level for Île-de-France.
  • Social security threshold: Maximum total defined every year, based on which contributions and certain social security allowances are calculated (annual amount in 2018: €39,732).

Forms you may need to fill in

Know your rights

The following links provide further information about your rights. These sites are not the responsibility of the European Commission and therefore do not represent its viewpoints:

Commission publication and websites:

Who do you need to contact?

Page of the pension insurance system's website to find the contact details of your regional pension fund (general system).  

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