Last updated more than 5 years ago
In the event of the death of an active member of the workforce or the recipient of an invalidity/old-age pension, their spouse or legal partner is, in principle, entitled to a survivor's pension paid by the National Pension Insurance Fund (Caisse nationale d'assurance pension – CNAP) as a survivor's benefit.
Persons entitled to the benefit, however, must apply for the pension themselves, because pension insurance benefits are only paid out on application, rather than not automatically.
Who is concerned
The following people may claim a survivor's pension under certain conditions:
- the surviving spouse or partner;
- the divorced spouse or former partner;
- relatives by blood or marriage in the direct line of descent and relatives in a collateral line up to the 2nd degree, if the insured person dies without leaving a surviving spouse or partner;
- the children of the insured individual and, where applicable, their dependent children.
Civil partnerships entered into abroad must have been registered in Luxembourg for the surviving partner or former partner to receive a survivor's pension.
The spouse or partner of the deceased insured individual or pension beneficiary may receive a survivor's pension in 2 scenarios:
- the deceased insured individual was the recipient of a pension: no qualifying period is required;
- the insured individual dies while actively employed: a survivor's pension is only available if the insured individual has had at least 12 continuous months of compulsory continued insurance over the 3 years preceding their death.
Survivors' benefits are also available if the insured individual has disappeared – i.e. if there has been no reliable news about them for a year, and it is likely, given the circumstances, that they are dead.
No preconditions related to the length of time as a contributor are required if the death is attributable to an accident of any kind or to an occupational illness. In that case, eligible survivors may, under certain conditions, collect the survivor's pension paid by the CNAP and the survivor's pension paid under the accident insurance policy (AAA).
How to proceed
Filing an application
A spouse's or partner's survivor's pension is only granted on formal application by the parties concerned. The application form is available from the CNAP and health insurance funds, communal administrations and professional associations of employees and employers. Even in the event of the death of a pensioner, survivors' pensions can only be granted on application by survivors.
It is in the survivor's interest to return the application as soon as possible. By indicating the bank account to which the pension is to be transferred, beneficiaries can avoid any difficulties related to frozen accounts.
if the applicant has contributed to several funds during their career, the application should be addressed to the insurance fund that last insured them;
Beneficiaries must submit the following along with their application:
- a bank account identification document;
- the insured individual's death certificate (to be collected from the communal authority of the city where the deceased lived);
- a family status certificate (to be collected from the communal authority of the city where the deceased lived);
- a marriage or civil partnership certificate (to be collected from the communal authority of the city where the deceased lived). The certificate must be prepared after the death of the insured individual. For civil partnerships formalised abroad, the certificate of registration in the Luxembourg civil register must be attached to the application.
In principle, the surviving spouse does not have to apply for a pension. In the event of death, the State Centre for Human Resources and Organisation Management verifies whether the survivors' legal requirements are fulfilled. If necessary, the following documents must also be submitted:
- a death certificate;
- a recent family status certificate for marriage/civil partnership;
- a certificate attesting to a shared household;
- withholding tax statement in the name of the survivor.
Conditions for allocation of the pension
Surviving spouse or partner
In the event of the death of the insured individual, the surviving spouse or partner may claim the survivor's pension, provided that:
- the marriage or partnership existed at least one year at the time of death or after the retirement of the insured individual due to disability or old age;
- the insured individual was not the recipient of a disability or old-age pension at the time of the marriage or partnership.
However, this rule is subject to the following exceptions:
- the death of the active member of the workforce or their retirement due to disability is the direct result of an accident that occurred after the marriage or partnership existed;
- a child was born of the marriage or partnership or was legitimised;
- the marriage or partnership lasted more than one year and the age difference between the spouses does not exceed 15 years;
- the marriage or partnership lasted at least 10 years.
For the surviving partner to receive a survivor's pension, civil partnerships entered into abroad must have been registered in Luxembourg.
Divorced spouses or former partners
Divorced spouses and former partners (whose partnership has been validly dissolved) are entitled to a survivor's pension provided that they have not entered into a new marriage or partnership before the death of their former spouse or partner.
The survivor's pension for a divorced spouse or former partner is established on the basis of the periods of insurance completed by the spouse or partner during the marriage in relation to the total duration of the insurance periods included.
If, at the time of the death of the insured individual, there are one or more divorced spouses or former partners whose partnership is validly dissolved and one spouse or partner, the survivor's pension is divided among the beneficiaries in proportion to the length of their respective marriages or partnerships.
For a former partner to receive a survivor's pension, the civil partnership entered into abroad must have been registered in Luxembourg.
Persons with rights similar to a surviving spouse (family members)
If an insured individual dies and has no surviving spouse or partner, the rights to the survivor's pension go to:
- relatives by blood and marriage in the direct line of descent (children, grandchildren, parents and the spouses or partners of such persons);
- relatives in the collateral line up to the second degree (brothers and sisters);
- children who were minors at the time of adoption.
In order to be considered a person with rights similar to a surviving spouse, all of the following conditions must be met:
- the person must have lived in a domestic community with the insured individual or pension beneficiary for at least 5 years before their death;
- the person must have been part of their household for the same period;
- the insured individual or pension beneficiary must have been the person's main financial supporter during that period;
- the person must be over 40 years of age at the time of the death of the insured individual or pension beneficiary.
Legitimate children and those with the rights of children (legitimate, adopted and illegitimate children and children who have lost one or both parents) are entitled to a survivor's pension after the death of either their father or mother, provided that the insured individual or the pension beneficiary has been responsible for their financial support and education for the 10 months preceding their death and they are not entitled to a pension from the persons providing financial support and education. In this case, the survivor's pension is called an orphan's pension.
The orphan's pension is paid until the age of 18 or, if the recipient continues their education or is incapable of earning a living, until the age of 27.
Calculation of pension, payment/reinstatement and appeals
Calculation of pension
In the event of the death of an insured person or a person receiving an old-age or disability pension, the annual survivor's pension consists of:
- 3/4 of any proportional increases, plus any additional increases, and the special proportional increases to which the insured individual was or would have been entitled;
- all of the lump-sum increases and special lump-sum increases to which the insured individual was or would have been entitled;
- the whole year-end allowance calculated for the pension to which the insured individual was or would have been entitled.
Survivors' pensions are indexed to changes in the cost of living and adjusted to reflect changes in wage levels.
In the case of overlapping payments, the survivor's pension is reduced when, together with the survivor's pension, it exceeds 3/4 of the average of the 5 highest annual salaries or incomes received over the deceased's career.
Payment and termination of rights to survivor's pension
If the deceased was actively employed, the survivor's pension starts on the date of death. However, for the month in which the death occurred and for the following 3 months, the survivor's pension is paid as compensation to an employer who has paid a three-month goodwill benefit.
If the deceased was the recipient of a disability or old-age pension, the survivor's pension will commence on the first day of the month following the death. Pensions are paid monthly and in advance.
Purchase of supplementary pension entitlement
If a surviving spouse or partner receiving a pension remarries or enters into a new civil partnership, the survivor's pension is stopped from the month following the new union. In this situation, the law allows for the possibility of reinstatement of rights to a survivor's pension under the following conditions:
- if the new union takes place before the age of 50, the survivor's pension may be reinstated at a rate of 5 times the amount paid over the previous 12 months;
- if the new union takes place after the age of 50, the rate is reduced to 3 times the amount paid over the previous 12 months;
- if the new marriage or partnership is dissolved by divorce or the death of the spouse, the right to a survivor's pension is reinstated, respectively, 5 or 3 years after the new marriage or partnership has taken place, before or after the age of 50 (if the death of the new spouse would also result in payment of a survivor's pension, only the higher of the 2 pensions is paid).
Means of appeal
After examination of the allocation conditions, the pension is granted or rejected by decision of the CNAP, which may be appealed.
In the event of a disagreement, appeals may be lodged as follows:
- the person in question may challenge the decision of the President of the CNAP by a written appeal. The management committee that issued the initial decision is then tasked with issuing a new decision;
- the decision of the Management Committee may be appealed before the Council of Arbitration of Social Security (Conseil arbitral de la Sécurité sociale – CASS);
- appeals against the judgement of the Council of Arbitration may be brought before the High Council of Social Security (Conseil supérieur de la sécurité sociale) in Luxembourg.
Beyond that timeframe, no appeals are accepted, and the decision becomes final with force of res judicata.