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Apply for widow's pension or widower's pension

The widow's or widower's pension supports you in the event of the death of your partner. It can help to cushion the financial hardships often associated with this. The regulations apply equally to surviving spouses and registered partners.

A widow's or widower's pension is paid from the pension account of the deceased. The amount of your widow's or widower's pension depends on this pension account.

In the first three calendar months after death, your widow's or widower's pension is as high as the pension of the deceased (known as the quarter of death).

Large and small widow's pension

You will then receive the so-called large or small widow's or widower's pension.

  • Large widow's and widower's pension: You receive 55 percent of the pension that the deceased was receiving or would have received at the time of death.
  • Small widow's and widower's pension: you receive 25 percent of the pension the deceased was receiving or would have received at the time of death. This pension is usually paid for a maximum of 24 months.

Due to deductions, the pension paid to you may be lower. It depends on how old your partner became. Under certain conditions, you may receive a child supplement.

If you have other income that exceeds a certain tax-free amount, this will be partially offset against your widow's or widower's pension. The amount of the tax-free amount is calculated individually. Exception: In the first three calendar months (death quarter) after death, your own income will not be offset.

Widow's or widower's pension under old law

The laws governing widow's or widower's pensions were changed starting in 2002. Depending on the date of death and your marriage or civil partnership, you may be eligible for a widow's or widower's pension under old law. The calculation may then differ:

  • 60 percent of the deceased's or the deceased's pension is used as a basis instead of 55 percent.
  • You may also receive the small widow's or widower's pension for an unlimited period.
  • Fewer types of income are taken into account.
  • There is no child supplement.

Process flow

You can submit your application online, in person or in writing.

Online application:

  • On the website of the German Pension Insurance (DRV) under "Online Services" you will find detailed information on the process.
  • If you follow the link "Submit application", you will be guided through the further steps and can select the desired application.
  • Alternatively, you can use the online services with registration. For example, you can see right away which insurance periods have already been recorded. You also save time and do not have to re-enter data you already know.
  • Complete the application in full and upload the required documents.
  • Submit your application online.
  • You will receive a confirmation of submission.
  • The responsible pension insurance institution will review your application.
  • You will receive a decision on your application.

Personal application:

  • Compile the necessary documents for your application and make an appointment with the DRV.
  • When making an appointment online, your personal data and, if possible, your insurance number are required.
  • You can select a desired counseling center and your preferred appointment time. Depending on the availability of free appointments, you will receive a proposal for a binding counseling appointment.
  • During your personal consultation, your application will be recorded electronically and forwarded online to the responsible pension insurance institution.
  • The responsible pension insurance institution will review your application.
  • You will receive a decision on your application.

Written application:

  • Go to the DRV's website.
  • Download the application form you need.
  • You can also pick up the form in person at the information and advice centers.
  • Fill out the application form, sign it and attach the required documents.
  • Send all documents
    • by mail to your pension insurance institution or
    • hand them in at one of the local advice centers.
  • The responsible pension insurance institution will review your application.
  • You will receive a decision on your application.

A person you trust can also submit your pension application on your behalf. For this purpose, please submit a power of attorney to the pension insurance company. As long as the power of attorney is valid, the pension insurance company will only contact the person you have authorized.

If you give your consent to electronic communication, all correspondence can be done online. Either use the electronic mailbox under online services with registration or De-Mail.


General requirements

  • You have not remarried.
  • The deceased has paid into the pension insurance for at least 5 years (general waiting period) or has already received a pension.
    • Exception: If your partner had an accident at work, for example, shorter periods may be sufficient.
  • You had been married or a civil partner for at least one year at the time of death.
    • Exception: Sometimes it is sufficient if you were married for less than one year. This applies, for example, if your partner died in an accident.

If you remarry, your widow's or widower's pension will end. However, you can then apply for a settlement to help you start a new phase in your life.

If you had decided as a couple to share your pension rights (pension splitting), you cannot receive a widow's or widower's pension.

Small widow's or widower's pension

You can receive the small widow's pension if

  • You are younger than the current age limit:
    • Age limit at death in 2020: 45 years and 9 months.
    • This age limit will gradually increase to 47 years by 2029.
  • you are not incapacitated for work and
  • you are not raising a child under the age of 18.

Large widow's or widower's pension

You can receive a large widow's pension if you have either

  • have reached the current age limit specified above, or
  • are incapacitated for work, or
  • are raising your own child or a child of the deceased under the age of 18, or
  • are caring for a disabled own child or child of the deceased, regardless of age.

Widow's or widower's pension under the old law

You may be entitled to a widow's or widower's pension under the old law if

  • your partner died before January 1, 2002, or
  • you were married before January 1, 2002, and
  • your partner was born before January 2, 1962.

In these cases, you may receive the pension even if you were

  • were married for less than 1 year.

Widow's or widower's pension to spouses divorced before July 1, 1977.

If your marriage was divorced before July 1, 1977, you may also, under certain conditions

  • even if you are already divorced, or
  • in the case of a renewed marriage or civil partnership that has been dissolved again

you may receive a special widow's or widower's pension.

Widow's or widower's pension after the second-last spouse

You can receive a so-called widow's or widower's pension after the second-last spouse if you

  • remarried or entered into a civil partnership after the death of your former partner, and
  • the new union has now been dissolved or terminated.

Which documents are required?

  • Application for survivor's pension
  • Personal document (such as identity card, passport, birth certificate or family record book)
  • Death certificate
  • Marriage certificate
  • Information on your income
  • Last pension adjustment notice of the deceased or other pension documents

What are the fees?

There are no costs involved.

What deadlines do I have to pay attention to?

Payment of the pension: If the deceased

  • already received a pension of his or her own, your widow's or widower's pension will begin no earlier than the month following the date of death.
  • has not yet received a pension of his or her own, your widow's or widower's pension will begin on the date of death.

Application deadlines:

  • File your application no later than 12 calendar months after the date of death.
  • If you apply later, the pension will not start until the month of application.

Processing duration

  • small widows' and widowers' pensions: usually 4 months
  • large widows' and widowers' pensions: usually 3 months.

Note: If your partner has already received a pension, you can apply for an advance during the first 30 days after the death. To do so, contact Deutsche Post's pension service with the death certificate and submit the formal pension application later. You must be entered as the survivor on the death certificate.

Applications / forms

  • Forms available: Yes
  • Written form required: Yes
  • Informal application possible: No
  • Personal appearance required: No
  • Online service available: Yes


  • Opposition
    • Detailed information can be found in the decision on your pension application.
  • Action before the social court
    • Detailed information can be found in the notice of appeal.

Technically approved by

Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (BMAS)

Professionally released on



The text was automatically translated based on the German content.

competent Bodies

Deutsche Rentenversicherung Bund (DRV Bund)
Address: Ruhrstraße 2 , 10709 Berlin, Stadt
Address: 10704 Berlin, Stadt
Telephone: 030 865-0
Fax: 030 865-27240

Data protection information

Landkreis Emsland
Address: Ordeniederung 1 , 49716 Meppen
Postal address: Post Office Box 15 62 , 49705 Meppen
Telephone: 05931 44-0
Fax: 05931 44-3621
Transport Connection:
Station Haltestelle Kreishaus
Bus: 993

Building Access
elevator available, wheelchair-accessible
bank account:
recipients: Landkreis Emsland
bank: Emsländische Volksbank
IBAN: DE26266600600120050000
recipients: Landkreis Emsland
bank: Sparkasse Emsland
IBAN: DE39266500010000001339
recipients: Landkreis Emsland
bank: Postbank Hannover
IBAN: DE36250100300012132306


Marc-André Burgdorf
responsible for:
Bernd Otten (Datenschutzbeauftragter)
Telephone: 05931 44-1605
Fax: 05931 44-391605
responsible for:

Landesbeauftragte für den Datenschutz Niedersachsen
Address: Prinzenstraße 5, 30159 Hannover
Telephone: +49 511 12045-00
Fax: +49 511 12045-99

Source: Serviceportal Niedersachsen (Portalverbund des Bundes und der Länder)