Government proposes a fixed-term spouse’s pension and the extension of eligibility to unmarried partners

An upcoming reform of the legislation on survivors’ pensions is intended as a response to the evolving needs of families and the society at large. The reform will improve unmarried partners’ economic security by making them eligible for spouses’ pensions and extend the right of children to orphan’s pension under the earnings-related pensions laws by two years.

Surviving spouses and children are eligible for survivors’ pensions under both the legislation governing earnings-related pensions and the National Pensions Act. The pension can be provided as a spouse’s pension or an orphan’s pension.

The legislation on survivors’ pensions is currently being reformed, with the changes scheduled to become effective at the start of 2022. The most important presented changes are:

  • changing the spouse’s pension to a fixed-term benefit for those born in 1975 or later
  • extending eligibility for a spouse’s pension to unmarried partners
  • improving the rights of orphan’s pension recipients.

Spouse’s pension payable for a fixed period - Eligibility extended to unmarried partners

According to the Government’s proposal to the Parliament, the spouse’s pension would become payable for a maximum period of 10 years. It would also be available to the unmarried partner of the deceased. However, the spouse’s pension would be paid at least until the youngest child entitled to an orphan’s pension reaches the age of 18 years. The limited-duration rule would apply to surviving spouses born in 1975 or later but only if the deceased passed away after the proposed laws were in force.

Spouses’ pensions under the earnings-related pensions laws and the National Pensions Act would also be available to unmarried partners who shared a household with the deceased for at least five years consecutively or who have a minor child with the deceased. The child must have lived in the same household with the deceased and the surviving spouse. This spouse’s pension would be payable until the youngest child of the deceased and the surviving spouse reaches the age of 18 years.

The upcoming reform does not apply to surviving spouses already in receipt of a spouse’s pension or who were granted the pension before the proposed laws are due to take effect.

Kela pays spouse's pension only to surviving spouses under the age of 65.

Improvements to orphans’ pensions

Eligibility for orphans’ pensions under the earnings-related pensions laws is proposed to be extended until the age of 20 years. Currently, eligibility ends at age 18.

Under the National Pensions Act, orphan’s pension is already now paid until age 21. No changes are proposed to orphans’ pensions available under this Act. However those 18 and over are expected to study on a full-time basis.

Additional information