Understanding the rules on ASPA

We respond to reader queries about the allocation de solidarité pour les personnes âgées

We respond to reader queries about the allocation de solidarité pour les personnes âgées

I AM worried about Saspa's €39,000 inheritance rule. My late husband used to claim the ASPA benefit for elderly people on low incomes. We thought if something happened to him and, as his estate would be worth more than €39,000, I would repay the benefit when I sold our house or money would be taken back from the estate after I died.
However, I have heard I have to repay it straight away and have even heard I may have to remortgage the house (which is paid for) to pay Saspa back. H.J.

As you know, the allocation de solidarité pour les personnes âgées, ASPA, is managed by Saspa for those applicants who have not built up French pension rights through work in France. This is a branch of public finance body the Caisse des Dépôts. When a claimant dies, Aspa paid out may be reclaimable by Saspa if the actif net successoral (value of the estate net of tax) is more than €39,000.

A Saspa spokeswoman said the money is recuperated in full against the estate after the death if possible, however where it is unaffordable for the heirs, arrangements for recovery may be adapted to their circumstances. She said the best thing to do was to contact Saspa directly, giving details of the death and of the notaire dealing with
the estate, so Saspa can find a solution which best meets both your and their interests. You should also ask for a reexamination of your own right to claim ASPA, taking into account your new situation, the spokeswoman said.

The response which then head of Saspa Jacques Taffin gave Connexion on this issue two years ago may further clarify the approach that has usually been taken. He said when an estate is valued after a person's death the value of a main home is not included for purposes of assessing an ASPA repayment while a surviving spouse lives there. If the spouse sells to move to another house this exoneration will continue, he said. However, if the survivor sells up definitively, to move to a retirement home or stay with a relative, repayment is likely to be due. "Our intention is not to put the spouse out into the street," Mr Taffin said.

I HAVE lived, worked and paid tax in France for 25 years and will retire, aged 65, next year. My small French pension will be all I will have to live on. I have heard that to be eligible for a full ASPA top-up you must not have more than €39,000 inheritance. I am half-owner of a £300,000 UK home, which I will own outright when my father dies. What is likely to be deducted from my top-up? V.B.

You have misunderstood the relevance of the €39,000 which relates to the possibility for the state to claim back ASPA paid out to you after you die. Entitlement to ASPA is based on income level (such as pensions), which may, if you are entitled to it, be topped up to a current maximum €742.27 a month for a single person (€1,181.77 for a couple).

However 3% of the sale value of capital possessions, not including main home, is usually taken into account (as well as direct forms of income like pensions), on the basis that these – whether shares, investment property etc – usually provide some sort of income as well.

You are meant to keep the authorities informed of changes in circumstances, so inheriting full ownership of the UK home would definitely be relevant and almost certainly take you out of ASPA entitlement.

It would be worth discussing your current half-ownership with your caisse régionale d'assurance maladie, who deal with ASPA for people who have worked in France, to see if this can be disregarded (assuming you are not deriving any income from it).

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