Personal and Family relationships change over time, and this can lead to difficult circumstances, especially if your spouse dies, or if you are need to look after elderly or sick relatives who may not have lived or worked in Ireland.


This is the name for pensions paid to the surviving widow or widower when their spouse dies.   It is also known as the Widows or Widowers Pension.   It is available only to those who were officially married, or to same-sex couples who had a civil partnership.  It is not available to unmarried partners.

If either of the spouses has enough social insurance contributions in the 3 or 5 years before the death, the payment is known a Widows Contributory Pension and is not means-tested.  Contributions from other EU countries are counted, as long as your last contribution before the death was made in Ireland.

You cannot receive this pension at the same time as any other social welfare payment, with the exception of a half-rate Carers Allowance.  So you cannot receive a Widows Pension at the same time as Jobseekers or Illness Benefit or the Old-Age Pension.  If you already get one of these payments, you can receive the payment that is better for you.

The Widows Pension is also available to those who were divorced at the time of the death, as long as the person claiming the pension has not married again and is not currently in a new cohabiting relationship.   If you have not re-married, then it doesn’t matter if your husband or wife had remarried.   It is therefore possible to receive this pension, even if you have not had any recent contact with your ex-spouse.   In some cases, it may be years after the death when you find out that your ex had died, and in these circumstances you can apply for the pension and ask them to backdate the pension to the date of the death.

If Ireland is the country responsible for your Widows Pension Contributory, you can receive the pension in any other country in the EU.

If you receive the Contributory Survivors Pension and you have dependent children at the time of the death of your spouse, there is also a €8,000 bereavement grant available.  This should be automatically paid when your pension is awarded.

If you do not have enough social insurance contributions, they will look at the social insurance record of the spouse who had died.   If neither of you have the required social insurance, you may still qualify for a Widows Non-Contributory Pension, but this is means tested, and subject to Habitual Residence Rules.   The Non-Contributory Pension can only be paid in Ireland.


Richie MacRitchie is an information officer with Welfare Appeals, who provide information and representation on social welfare, housing, employment and other issues.  Regular clinics are held in Russian language in the Larkin Unemployed Centre, North Strand Road, Dublin 3 and by zoom (Appointment is required)

For details, visit

If you would like further information email

The above information is provided for information purposes only, and without any liability for any error or omission.   It does not purport to constitute legal advice
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