Survivor’s pensions

The survivors’ pension is awarded to eligible family members of a person who – on the day of death – held the established entitlement to an old-age pension (including an old-age bridging pension) or a disability pension or who met the requirements for awarding one of these benefits. When the right to a survivors’ pension is established, ZUS assumes that the deceased person was completely incapable of work.

The survivors’ pension is also awarded to eligible family members of a person who – on the day of death – was a recipient of a pre-retirement benefit, a pre-retirement allowance or a teachers’ compensatory benefit. In such a case ZUS assumes that the deceased person has fulfilled the conditions to be awarded the pension in respect of a complete incapacity for work. The survivors’ pension is not awarded if the deceased person has been receiving the temporary funded old-age pension.

The following persons have the right to the survivors’ pension:

  • one’s own children, a spouse’s children, adopted children:
    • until they reach the age of 16 years,
    • in the case of children in education – until they reach the age of 25 years (if the child reached the age of 25 years while being a student of the final year of study at an institution of tertiary education – till the end of this year of study),
    • irrespective of age if they have become completely incapable of work before reaching the age of 16 years or – while in education – before reaching the age of 25 years;
  • grandchildren, siblings and other children, if they meet such conditions as own children, and in addition:
    • have been accepted for upbringing and maintenance before reaching the age of majority at least one year before the death of the insured or the pensioner, unless the death resulted from an accident (except for children accepted for upbringing and maintenance within a foster family or family home;
    • are not entitled to a pension after death of their parents, and when the parents are alive, if they cannot provide for their subsistence, or the insured person or the pensioner or his/her spouse was a guardian of the children established by the court;
  • the spouse (widow, widower, pensioner) if he/she meets one of the following conditions:
    • at the time of death of the spouse was over 50 years of age or was incapable of work or,
    • brings up at least one of the children, grandchildren or siblings who are entitled to the survivors’ pension after the deceased spouse and are under 16 or – if in education – 18 years old,
    • takes care of a child who is totally incapable of work and of independent existence or who is totally incapable of work and entitled to the survivors’ pension,
    • reached 50 years of age or became incapacitated within 5 years after the death of his/her spouse or since he/she stopped raising legitimate children;
  • a divorced spouse or a widow(er) who, at the time of death of the spouse, was not married to him/her if they meet the conditions for a widow(er) and, in addition, were entitled to maintenance at the time of the death of the spouse as determined by the court; as well as an ex-wife or separated wife, if she proves that she has been receiving maintenance by agreement between her and the deceased immediately before his death;
  • a spouse or a widow(er) who does not meet the conditions but does not have the necessary means of subsistence; a pension may be granted:
    • for a maximum of one year after the death of the spouse,
    • for a maximum of 2 years after the death of the spouse, if the widow(er) attends a training course after which he/she is going to obtain qualifications for gainful employment;
  • the deceased person’s parent (mother, father, stepfather, stepmother, adopter) who fulfils the conditions for a widow(er) if the deceased person contributed to his/her subsistence immediately before the death.

The survivors’ pension is payable to all eligible family members in one total amount.
ZUS distributes it equally among the entitled persons:

  • one eligible person is entitled to 85% of the benefit that the deceased would be entitled to,
  • two eligible persons are entitled to a total of 90% of the benefit that the deceased would be entitled to,
  • more than two eligible persons are entitled to a total of 95% of the benefit that the deceased would be entitled to.

The survivors’ pension may be supplemented with a double orphan’s allowance.

At the end of 2018, survivors’ pensions were usually received by women – they received 89.0% of them. Among women, the benefit was most often collected by persons aged 55 years and older (88.9% of eligible women). Among men, the most numerous group were people between 10 and 24 years of age (42.3% of eligible men).

In 2018, survivors’ pensions were received by 1,218.3 thousand people, and their average amount was PLN 1,977.85 per month.