The surviving spouse of a former business owner in France normally has an entitlement to a widow’s pension, albeit a modest one.
The widow’s pension is called a pension de reversion, and comprises two pensions - a basic pension and a complementary pension.
The basic pension is called the pension de reversion du régime de base.
Entitlement to this pension is subject to four conditions:
i. Marital Status - First, it is payable only to the surviving married spouse of a business owner (or salaried employee), which means those in a civil partnership or who were living in free union have no entitlement.
ii. Deceased Entitlement - Second, an entitlement only exists where their deceased spouse would have been entitled to a French pension. This may not be an unimportant point for many expatriates in France who have set themselves up as a micro-entrepreneur, for a minimum level of turnover is required each year to obtain points towards a pension. You can read more in our article Pension Rights of Micro-Entrepreneurs.
iii. Minimum Age - Third, the surviving spouse must be at least 55 years of age, although below this age they may be entitled to other forms of financial support.
iv. Personal Income - Finally, the full pension is also only payable subject to the surviving spouse not having a gross income greater than €20,862 (2019), a figure that is revised each year. If you are working only 70% of your professional income will be taken into account. Certain other income is excluded from the calculation, eg, complementary pension, investment and rental income previously part of the joint income of the couple, assurance vie sums.
The amount of the basic pension is 54% of the pension sum to which their deceased would have been entitled, subject to a minimum and a maximum sum. The percentage increases to 60% for those over 65 with monthly income less than €640.
The minimum pension payable is €3,444 pa, and the maximum €10,941pa (2019).
These figures are only guaranteed provided the deceased had paid at least 15 years' pension contributions; less than 15 years the pension is reduced on a proportional basis.
The complementary pension is called pension de reversion du régime complémentaire.
By definition, it is granted in addition to the basic pension, subject to conditions.
The conditions that apply will depend on the insurance regime to which the deceased spouse was affiliated, although the following rules apply in the vast majority of cases.
Entitlement to a pension is from the age of 55 years, on condition of being married (or divorced) to the deceased.
The amount payable is 60% of the complementary pension to which the deceased would have been entitled.
The income ceiling for the complementary pension is considerably higher than the basic pension, currently €81,048 (2019), beyond which the pension is reduced. Once again, as with the basic pension investment and rental income and assurance vie capital belonging to the couple is excluded from this calculation.
It should not be assumed from these figures that the amount of the pension will be high; unless the deceased made substantial pension contributions over a long period, the level of the complementary pension is relatively modest.
The pension is not granted automatically. In order to receive it some haste is needed in making an application for if the demand is not made within a year following death it is only paid from the date of the application.
In order to make application for the both pensions you should go to Pension de Reversion or on-line at Info-Retraite.
Separately from a pension, a bereavement grant may also be payable, which we will cover in a future Newsletter.