Orphan's pension: Everything you need to know

This is a Social Security payment that guarantees children an income if one or both parents die.
An orphan's pension is a type of financial assistance offered to the descendants of deceased individuals and, sometimes to the descendants of said individual's spouse, provided certain criteria are met, which mainly involve the deceased's social security contributions and the age of the beneficiary. The National Social Security Institute is the agency responsible for analyzing applications and issuing the corresponding payment. Therefore, the required documents must be submitted to the Social Security Support and Information Center (if the deceased individual worked in the maritime industry, documents must be submitted to the Regional Division of the Maritime Industry Social Institute (ISM)).
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The main objective of the orphan's pension, which is classified under the "death and survival" category, is to protect the beneficiary of said pension from financial need deriving from the death of one or both of their parents. In order to apply for this financial assistance, a parent must have either died or disappeared and there must be proof that the individual in question made social security contributions over a specific period whilst in work:

  • If the death occurred before 01/01/2008:
    • If the deceased is entered in the Social Security Register as a current contributor, or similar: 500 days of social security payments must have been made over the five years immediately preceding the death, or 15 years worth of payments must have been made throughout the individual's entire working life.
    • If the deceased is not entered as a current contributor in the Social Security Register: 15 years worth of payments must have been made over their entire working life.
    • If the deceased is a pensioner: no proof of social security contributions is required.
  • If the death occurred after 01/01/2008: no minimum social security contribution period is required.

Regardless of the date of death, if the death occurred due to a work-related accident or illness, no proof of a minimum social security contribution period will be required in order to receive the orphan's pension. An orphan's pension can be applied for at any time following the triggering event; however, the financial effect may only be applied retroactively for a maximum period of three months.

Beneficiaries of the orphan's pension

The beneficiaries are the children of the deceased person, irrespective of the legal nature of their relationship with said individual, and the children of the surviving spouse who were brought into the marriage, provided the marriage was in effect two years before the death of the individual at issue and the children lived with the couple at their expense, are not entitled to another social security pension, and have no other relatives who have the obligation and means (under civil legislation) to support them.

Age at which the orphan's pension ceases

In general, at the date of the individual at issue's death, the beneficiaries must be under 21. They may also be over 21 if their ability to work is restricted due to an assessment (performed on a percentage scale) of absolute permanent disability or severe disability (applicable from 08-02-2011).

In the event of absolute orphanhood, or where orphans have a disability of at least 33%:

  • If the orphan is not in gainful employment (either salaried or self-employed), or if they are in gainful employment but the income obtained over the course of a year is less than the annual rate established for the minimum wage at the time, they will be entitled to receive the pension until they are 25 (applicable from 08-02-2011).
  • If the orphan is in education and has their 25th birthday during the academic year, they will continue to receive their orphan's pension until the first day of the month immediately after the first month of the next academic year.

In the event of simple orphanhood:

  • If the orphan does not work, or their income is lower than the minimum wage, the 25-year age limit will apply from 01-01-2014. Up to this date, the limit will be: 22 years during 2011; 23 years during 2012 and 24 years during 2013.
  • If the orphan is in education and has their 25th birthday during the academic year, they will continue to receive their orphan's pension until the first day of the month immediately after the first month of the next academic year.

Amount received

To ensure the beneficiary is financially protected, the pension is paid in 12 monthly installments, with two extraordinary payments in June and November. If the orphan's parent died as a result of a work-related accident or illness, the two extra payments will be included in the 12 ordinary installments.

The orphan's pension totals 20% of the deceased person's regulatory base. Furthermore, if the parent died as a result of a work-related accident or illness, each beneficiary is paid one month of the base salary as compensation.

In the event of absolute orphanhood, monthly payments are supplemented in accordance with the following conditions:

  • If, at the time of death, there is no beneficiary of the survivor's pension, the pension is supplemented by the amount calculated by adding 52% of the regulatory base.
  • If, at the time of death, there is a beneficiary of the survivor's pension, the orphan's pension may still be increased, if the amount of said survivor's pension that has not been assigned is added to the regulatory base.
  • If the surviving parent dies while receiving a survivor's pension, the orphan's pension is supplemented by adding the amount that would have been applied to determine the discontinued survivor's pension.
  • If a person dies due to work-related accident or illness, the compensation is supplemented by the amount that would have been paid to said person's spouse or domestic partner.
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