Losing a spouse causes great personal suffering, but it can also be accompanied with financial pressures that arise due to the loss of the deceased person’s income. The Widows Pension is intended to ensure a minimum income to the spouse of a deceased person who has made sufficient contributions.
Surviving Spouse Pension: Eligibility RequirementsIn order to be eligible for the Quebec Pension Plan’s (QPP) Surviving Spouse Pension, two conditions must be met. First of all, the deceased must have sufficiently contributed to the QPP, and secondly, the partner must be recognized as a legal spouse.
The deceased’s partner is the beneficiary of the pension if:
• They were legally or common-law married to the deceased and were not legally separated.
• They were recognized as the common-law partner in the event the deceased was not married or in a civil union, or was legally separated: people who had been living 3 years or more with the deceased at the time of death, or those who had been living together for at least a year and have had a natural or adopted child are considered common-law partners.
The surviving spouse pension may be paid to the legally separated spouse
If there is no recognized common-law partner, the legally separated spouse can still benefit from the Surviving Spouse Pension if the deceased person was not living with anyone for at least 3 years at their time of death:
• Provided that the separation occurred before July 1st 1989
• In the event of a waiver of income sharing registered with the Régime at the time of separation, if the separation occurred between July 1, 1989 and December 31, 1993 and no other separation judgement took effect after that date.
Even if remarried or in a civil union, the legally separated spouse will continue to receive the Surviving Spouse Pension.
Same-sex partners are eligible for the Surviving Spouse Pension
Claims for same-sex surviving spouse benefits are acceptable if the person died after April 3, 1985. The Quebec Pension Plan Act was retroactively amended in 2002, and people who had previously been denied a surviving spouse’s pension because both individuals were of the same sex may submit a new request to the QPP. If accepted, they will receive a monthly payment of the pension as well as a retroactive payment equal to twelve months’ worth of pension.
How the Surviving Spouse Pension is calculated
The amount of the Surviving Spouse Pension is determined based on the following:
• Total QPP contributions paid by the deceased
• The age of the surviving spouse
• If they were the beneficiary of the QPP supplement
• If the surviving spouse is responsible for one or more of the deceased person’s children
• If they are disabled
• If they are already receiving a retirement or disability pension
The Surviving Spouse Pension can be combined with other pensions
Under the Quebec Pension Plan, the Surviving Spouse Pension can be combined with:
• A retirement pension
• A disability pension
It should be noted that this so-called combined pension is capped at the maximum amount as determined by law. After losing a spouse, sometimes you have to cope with material difficulties in addition to your own pain. The Surviving Spouse Pension helps to compensate for part of the loss of income related to their disappearance.