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Opinions on the reform of widows’ and widowers’ pensions are divided

Opinions on the reform of widows' and widowers' pensions are divided. While some parties and organizations in the consultation process welcome a balanced draft, others fear the impact on the poorest and women in particular.

The amendment to the AHV Act is intended to correct unequal treatment of widows and widowers. The latter currently receive a lifelong pension, while widowers are only supported until their youngest child comes of age.

The reform provides for benefits to be based on the period of child-raising, regardless of the parents' marital status. Lifelong widow's pensions would be abolished. A two-year transitional benefit is planned for people without dependent children.

Widows and widowers with dependent children would receive a pension until the child reaches the age of 25. Supplementary benefits are provided for people over the age of 58 who would fall into precarious circumstances.

Pensions for pensioners under the age of 55 would be abolished two years after the bill comes into force. The current pensions for over 55-year-olds would be retained. Recipients of supplementary benefits who are 50 or older would also not be affected by the revision. A reduction in AHV expenditure of CHF 720 million is planned. The federal government, for its part, will save 160 million.

Living conditions have changed

Pro Senectute supports the abolition of lifelong pensions, as this system is no longer based on valid life circumstances and no longer reflects today's social realities. The new focus on the time spent raising children is therefore understandable.

The Conference of Cantonal Directors of Social Affairs (SODK) also agrees with the basic approach. Instead of granting the entitlement to a lifelong pension regardless of need, the bill calculates the benefits after a death according to the circumstances. However, the SODK finds the exclusion of childless couples from the bridging pension incomprehensible.

Meanwhile, the umbrella organization of family organizations Pro Familia rejects the reform, "which is being carried out on the backs of women". The draft risks creating new precarious situations, the main victims of which are women who have reduced their employment in order to look after their families.

Meanwhile, the Aurora association, the contact point for widows and widowers with underage children, is calling for current pensions to be paid to surviving parents as before. In the case of future pensions, surviving parents should also be granted a transitional pension of at least two years after they have completed their maintenance obligation.

Commoners see balanced reform

Among the parties, the FDP considers the reform to be balanced. It eliminates unequal treatment of men and women, provides for transitional benefits and takes hardship cases into account.

The SVP also welcomes the revision. In view of the shortage of qualified workers and the steadily increasing participation of women in the workforce, the payment of a lifelong, gender-specific pension is no longer appropriate. The party also welcomes the planned savings.

The Center welcomes the revision of the law in principle. The planned measures would take account of today's social realities and family models. The party believes it makes sense for the entitlement to benefits to focus on "intensive" phases.

The Left does not want any savings

On the left, the SP welcomes the fact that legal equality between widows and widowers is finally being guaranteed and that the entitlement to benefits for parents with caring responsibilities is being guaranteed. However, the party rejects the planned savings, "which would be carried out on the backs of people who are already in a precarious situation".

The Greens also reject the path proposed by the Federal Council, as it would worsen benefits for certain groups of women. The party suspects that the proposal is not aimed at eliminating gender inequalities, but rather at reducing the federal government's expenditure on AHV.

©Keystone/SDA

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