From anecdotal evidence, it appears that many of our members do not realise that public service pensioners may qualify for a Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s (Contributory) Pension on the death of their spouse or civil partner, subject to meeting the appropriate conditions.

In this regard, there are a few key points to note.

Entitlement is based on either your own social insurance record or that of your late spouse or civil partner. The two records cannot be combined when calculating entitlement.

Unlike many other social welfare benefits, PRSI contribution classes A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, P, N and S are reckonable for this pension. Voluntary contributions are also taken into account.

The relevant contributions are those paid up to the date of death of the spouse or civil partner or up to pension age (currently age 66).

The qualifying criteria (in terms of contributions) are different (in general fewer required) than those for the State Pension (Contributory).

You do not have to be retired to draw this pension.

This pension is separate to any pension payable under a public service or other occupational Spouses’ and Children’s Scheme.

This pension is separate to any pension you may be receiving under a public service or other occupational pension scheme.

You may qualify for this pension even if you were divorced.

This pension is not payable in addition to the State Pension, but in some instances, the Widow’s/Widower’s/Surviving Civil Partner’s pension may be more beneficial.

This pension is taxable.

As with all schemes, qualifying conditions may change from time to time.

If you become bereaved by the death of your spouse or civil partner, it is advisable to contact the Department of  Social Protection as early as possible or to call in to a Citizens Information Centre to check out your possible entitlements.  There is a Citizens Information Centre in each county in Ireland for personal callers.  If in any doubt, it is best to make an application.