Spring 2020: Alsace is one of the main centers of Covid-19, with a sudden peak in mortality, especially among retirees. “Paradoxically, this did not correspond to a peak in requests for survivor’s pensions”, recalls Clotilde Morel, director of innovation, marketing and communication for the Pension and Occupational Health Insurance Fund. (Carsat) of Alsace-Moselle.
To better understand why widows – 88% of beneficiaries are women – give up asking for their deceased husband’s share of the pension, which is nevertheless theirs by right, the pension fund turned to researchers in behavioral sciences .
“It is not a question of ignorance of the rights: if the lack of information exists, it is not the most widespread situation”, assures Nicolas Fieulaine, who heads the firm NF Études and directed this work. “Faced with the disappearance of a loved one, we are rather on an emotional ground, with a strong mental load which can deter from mobilizing the rights”, continues the researcher in social psychology. He estimates between 25% and 30% the rate of non-use.
Addressing “insured level” issues
“In some cases, widows refuse to apply for a survivor’s pension under the impression that they are ‘benefiting’ from their husband’s retirement, even though it is a right designed to compensate for inequalities in the course , he observes. Others believe that the procedure will be too complicated for only a few euros. »
Little by little, researchers have brought to light the entire representation of mourning and of the relationship to death. “We have learned a lot of things”, recognizes Clotilde Morel, aware of the need for pension insurance to better take this context into account and to address issues “at the level of the insured”.
Solutions have since been tested with the research firm to improve communication with policyholders and support them in accessing rights. “For example, we are changing our vocabulary, which is sometimes very jargon-inducing, towards a more human dimension,” explains Clotilde Morel.
Communicate at the right time
The refusal letters have also been reviewed: “Insured persons stopped their procedures after our refusal, even though they were eligible for the additional reversion of Agirc-Arrco, which is not subject to a ceiling of resources,” says the manager of the pension fund.
Scripts have also been developed to guide Carsat employees with policyholders in their telephone conversations. They are sometimes faced with complicated situations: separation and remarriage, new spouse ignoring the previous couple of the person with whom he lives, fear of a scam when the call from the pension fund arrives…
Another point identified: the need to communicate at the right time with the beneficiaries of the rights. “Neither too early, while they are still in the funeral, nor too late, and the page is turned”, details Nicolas Fieulaine, who estimates at “between two weeks and a month” the moment when the mail from the insurance must arrive.
“Put a little psychology into administrative technique”
The Carsat of Alsace-Moselle should know at the start of the school year if its efforts have made it possible to lower the rate of non-use. “The first results are promising”, assures Clotilde Morel, hoping that this work will benefit the entire network of the National Pension Fund (Cnav), which has fought against the non-use of benefits one of the priorities of the new objectives and management agreement signed in June with the State.
For Nicolas Fieulaine, who also teaches at the National Institute of Public Service (INSP, ex-ENA), all public policies would benefit from this approach.
“The administration gradually understands the need to put a little psychology into the administrative technique, he insists. In my courses at the INSP, I feel that the idea of an administration that would be more in a position to support citizens is gaining ground. »
The survivor’s pension
The survivor’s pension is a part (54%) of a person’s pension, which a widow or widower over the age of 55 can benefit from after their death, subject to means testing (€23,442 for a single person; €37,507 for a couple).
If the deceased person contracted several successive marriages, the survivor’s pension is distributed to the various spouses in proportion to the years of marriage.
Agirc-Arrco, the supplementary pension scheme for private sector employees also distributes a survivor’s pension (60% of the deceased person’s pension), except in the event of remarriage.
The latest pension reform also provided that the survivor’s pension would be open from 1 September to orphans of deceased pensioners (as is already the case in the civil service up to the age of 21). However, the implementing decrees have not yet been published.