Survivors' pensions and death grants
Affected by Brexit?
The rules and conditions presented on this page still apply to EU citizens in the UK and to UK citizens in the EU provided they are protected by the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement.
If you acquired any social security rights (such as the right to healthcare, unemployment benefits, pensions) before 31 December 2020, the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement sets out the general rules for the protection of these rights. Read more about EU citizen’s rights in the UK.
If you think that your rights under EU law are not being respected and you need advice, contact our assistance service.
If you are an EU national in the UK, you should first seek redress with the relevant UK authorities. If the problem persists, you can report a breach of your rights to the UK Independent Monitoring Authority.
If you are a UK national in an EU country and want to complain, you can report it to the European Commission.
When a person dies, the surviving relatives may have the right to claim survivor's benefits. The benefits and the possible recipients differ from one EU country to another. Here are some of the most common benefits you can claim if you are a surviving relative.
A survivor's pension is a monthly allowance corresponding to a percentage of the pension the deceased received/would have received, and it is paid to their closest surviving relatives. It is granted by the same authority that granted/would have granted their pension. The amount payable is calculated in the same way as for an old-age pension.
You have to apply for a survivor's pension to the pension authority in the country where your deceased relative last lived or worked. The national authorities will then review your claim and forward it to the EU country responsible.
If you don't meet the national requirements to receive a survivor's pension, you may be able to receive a widowhood allowance.
Not all EU countries pay survivors' pensions.
A death grant is a one-time payment after the event of death.
Not all EU countries pay death grants.
Before you apply for a death grant, you need to check:
- which country's social insurance system covered your deceased relative
- whether that country provides death grants
- what conditions apply to the payment of death grants in that country
- whether those conditions are met.
Where to apply?
You should always apply to the social security authority which your deceased relative was registered with - in the country where they last lived. The national authorities will then review your claim and forward it to the EU country responsible.
Which country will pay?
If your deceased relative received a pension from several EU countries, the country that should pay the death grant and/or the survivor's pension is either:
- the country where your late relative last lived provided they received a pension from there
- or the country where they paid social contributions the longest.
In either case, you should still file the application to the social security authority which the deceased was registered with, in the country where he/she last lived.
Get to know which country should pay your death grant
Els and Jan from the Netherlands moved to Italy when they retired. When Jan died, Els was told she could apply for a Dutch death grant, but she didn't know where she should apply for it.
Els contacted a European employment adviser and found out that she should apply to the health insurance authority where her husband was registered in Italy. This administration then forwarded her application to the Dutch authorities.
The same rules apply regardless of whether your deceased relative was a pensioner or not. As long as he/she paid social security contributions, you have the right to survivor's benefits.
The requirements for receiving a death grant or survivor's pension vary from one EU country to another.
Check what rules apply in the country where your deceased relative was insured: