Widow pension (Spain) - Guide
Updated: Aug 29
If your partner dies and he or she has paid into the Spanish social security system, you might be entitled to the Spanish widow’s pension (Pensión de Viudedad), which is a contributory benefit that widowed partners can receive when their partner has died. However, there are certain conditions the deceased must have met for the partner to access the benefit.
The benefit will be available to the partner of the deceased person if one, or several, of the following requirements are met:
He or she paid into the Spanish Social Security system (SS), which means that:
He/she contributed to the SS for at least 500 days in the five years before their death, or;
They had an overall contribution period of at least 15 years with the Spanish Social Security system.
The deceased was receiving a contributory retirement pension or had the right to receive one before they died
The deceased was a pensioner with a permanent disability
The deceased had the right to a pension for temporary disability, maternity risk, maternity, paternity, or risk during breastfeeding, and complied with the contributory period in those cases.
The partner can apply for the Widow’s pension if :
A. The couple was legally married at least one year before the partner’s death, or, they had children in common. If neither of these conditions are met, the partner might still have access to a temporary Widow’s Pension
B. The partner was legally divorced/separated from the deceased and was entitled to maintenance payments. From 1 January 2013, a partner aged 65+ who had been married to the deceased for 15 years or more and who does not have the right to any other pension, can also apply
C. The partner was an unmarried partner/common-law partner, registered with the relevant Autonomous Community or designated Town Hall for at least two years before the death. In this case, it is necessary to show that:
The couple lived together in a stable relationship for the 5 years prior to death and during this period they had not separated from each other or married another person
The income of the living partner during the natural year before the death was less than 50% of the sum of the total income of the couple or, in the case of a partnership without common children, 25% of the couple’s total income
How much am I entitled to?
Usually, the benefit amounts to 52% of the regulatory base, which is a figure based on the person’s average contributions to the Social Security system.
This amount can increase to 60% of the regulatory base when the widowed person:
Is not entitled to any other state pension (Spanish or otherwise)
Does not receive income from any form of employment or self-employment
Does not have income from real estate capital, capital gains, or income from other economic activity which exceeds 7.569.00 euros/year (at 2020 rates)
In some cases, the benefit can be increased up to 70% of the regulatory base, if, during the entire period of the benefit entitlement, the following requirements are met:
1. The pensioner has family responsibilities such as:
They live with their children who are under 26, dependant adults (with a disability of 33% or more), or with foster children
The total family income, including that of the claimant, divided between the number of family members does not exceed 75% of the minimum annual salary valid at that time (excluding the two extra payments for salaries that are paid over 14 months instead of 12 in each year - a system that is used for some employment contracts in Spain)
2. The Widows Benefit is the primary or sole source of income, which means that this pension would represent 50% or more of their total annual income. The total income of the beneficiary, including the Widow’s Benefit, cannot exceed 18.539,40 euros per year (full pension - 7.569 euros + 10.940.40 from other sources of income). If so, the Widow’s Benefit will be reduced accordingly.
The total can vary depending on the different circumstances of the beneficiary, as well as the cause of death.
Regulatory base: how the amount is calculated
The regulatory base is the average contribution to the Unemployment Fund which corresponds to the last 180 days worked by the deceased person. It is a calculation made by the Employment Ministry which takes into account many legal aspects of an individual, such as marriage, children, disabilities, etc.
The amount of Widow’s Benefit is determined by taking into account the regulatory base of the deceased and is calculated in different ways, depending on the situation of the survivor and the cause of death of the deceased. In normal cases, the criteria will be similar to the one that is used to determine retirement pension entitlement.
The regulatory base is calculated differently, depending on whether the deceased was in employment, retired or had a permanent disability. These details will be relevant when presenting the documents to Social Security, so it is important to keep track of the documents that show the employment or other status of the deceased.
Can I receive other benefits at the same time?
The Widow’s Pension can be received in addition to any state benefit, such as retirement pension or unemployment benefit, income from employment, or permanent disability benefit. However, the new Widow's pension will be incompatible with any previous Widow’s pension that the beneficiary might already receive, in which case they will need to choose which one to keep.
Documents required in order to claim the Widow’s pension
All the following documents must be presented plus copies, except in the case of the identity documents. If some of the documents have been issued in another country, they will need to be officially translated and legalised in Spain.
A completed official application
Identity document of the applicant or representative: Passport or NIE
If required, a power of attorney or another legal document to enable the presentation of the applicant (for example if they are unable to act for themselves)
The deceased person’s death certificate
If the death was due to natural causes, present this declaration
A. If the applicant was married to the deceased they need the following documents:
Family book, Civil Registration, or an equivalent foreign document such as a marriage certificate which is properly legalised or sealed and translated to confirm the relationship with the deceased and the current civil status of the applicant. You can get an appointment to legalise your documents here.
B. If the applicant was separated/divorced from the deceased, or if the marriage was nullified:
A legal statement which confirms this and a document which demonstrates the right to receive a compensatory pension or compensation for the nullification of the partnership
The family book (or birth and marriage certificates) if there were common children and the couple was separated or divorced before 01.01.2008 and the applicant is under 50, or was a victim of domestic violence.
A completed declaration of responsibility issued by the Instituto Nacional de Seguridad Social (INSS).
Verification by the Literal Birth Certificate (Certificado Literal de Nacimiento) that the applicant didn’t marry anyone else after the death of the partner or the foreign equivalent.
For both A and B cases:
A medical certificate which shows the start date of the illness that caused the death of the partner, if there was less than a year between the date of marriage and the date of death and if there aren’t any children from the partnership/union. If there are children, only the Family Book or birth certificates are needed
Official proof of cohabitation (in Spanish, Certificado de Convivencia) if it existed before the marriage (issued by Town Halls)
C. For unmarried partners (Pareja de hecho - Common-law marriage):
The common law certificate as being unmarried partners
The civil registry record which verifies that both the applicant and the deceased weren’t married or separated from another person for two years before the date of death
The Certificate of Census Registration, in Spanish Empadronamiento, proving cohabitation with the deceased, for at least 5 years before the death
Confirmation of the applicant’s and the deceased’s income during the natural year before the death; and of the applicant for the same year of the death, through an IRPF (Spanish Tax) declaration or payslips, bank statements, etc.
All the documents must be presented in person at the designated INSS office of your Town or region. If the application is presented 3 months or more after the date of death, the Social Security office can only backdate the benefit for up to 3 months.
When does the right to Widow’s pension end?
The right to receive the benefit will end when the beneficiary marries another person or becomes a civil partner (Pareja de hecho) or if they have been found responsible for the death of their partner or the partner is officially missing.
The Widow’s pension is paid to the beneficiary monthly, with two extra payments issued annually in the months of June and November, except in the case where the deceased died in a work-related accident or illness, in which case these will be incorporated into the twelve monthly payments.
The pension is recalculated at the beginning of each year.
The minimum amounts are set the following (as at August 2023).
The Widow’s pension is subject to personal taxation (IRPF) and is therefore included in the general Spanish taxation system. However, the Widow’s pension is exempt from taxation if the death of the deceased is as a result of an act of terrorism.