retirement planning

What Foreign Spouses Need to Know about Survivor Pensions

In certain cases, a surviving spouse may be entitled to a survivor's pension when the spouse who was receiving the pension dies.
First, it might be useful to know the relevant terminology. For example, if the deceased was a company employee, a survivor’s pension is often called a “survivor’s welfare pension”. If the deceased was self-employed, it is known as a “basic pension”.

First, let’s talk about the survivor’s welfare pension.

A foreign spouse may be entitled to a survivor’s welfare pension if his or her deceased Japanese spouse was working at a company at the time of death or was retired and receiving payments from employee’s pension insurance. However, the surviving spouse’s eligibility is subject to the condition that the surviving spouse was financially supported by the deceased spouse. In other words, the surviving spouse must have been a legal dependent of the deceased spouse.

However, if the surviving spouse later remarries, he or she will no longer be entitled to receive the survivor's welfare pension. On the other hand, the amount of the pension will not change even if the surviving spouse earns money working or receives unemployment insurance. Best of all, pensions are tax-free!

Please note that you must apply within 5 years of your spouse's death to receive the pension. Even if the foreign spouse returns to his or her home country or retires in another country, the surviving spouse can still receive the survivor’s pension. It can be sent to a foreign bank account.

If the deceased spouse was self-employed, the surviving spouse or children will receive the survivor's pension.

In this case, the deceased spouse must have been the main breadwinner. In addition, the surviving spouse must have children who were financially dependent on the same income from the deceased spouse as the surviving spouse was. This means that if the couple had no children, or if the children are already living independently, the surviving spouse will not be eligible for a survivor's pension. This is very different from the case of a company employee.

Since the procedures for receiving Japanese pension benefits are extremely cumbersome, you might need the help of a labor and social security attorney to apply for a survivor's pension.
If you have any problems, we would be happy to refer you to a labor and social security attorney, so please do not hesitate to contact Kobe Legal Partners.

-retirement planning