Can foreign residents claim France’s pension top-up benefit?

The monthly Aspa benefit is up to €906 for a single person and does not always depend on having paid into the French social security system

7 October 2021

Many elderly people in France are eligible to top up their pensions with Aspa Pic: Jacob Lund / Shutterstock

By Liv Rowland and Mélanie Sabre

Some half a million over-65s living in France with low incomes receive France’s pension top-up benefit, the Allocation de solidarité aux personnes âgées (Aspa).

Most of them have previously worked in France and paid into its social security system, however around 70,000 have not, including foreign residents who have moved from elsewhere. 

While eligible French people and European citizens can benefit on the basis of residency in France, non-EU nationals do not benefit automatically.

Aspa is a monthly benefit which mostly serves to top-up low pensions. For those attached to a French pension fund applications are made to that fund, for most employees this will be the Carsat for your region; others exist depending on the sector.

But what if you do not have a French pension fund? 

In this case applications are to a service called Saspa, which is currently run by the Mutualité Sociale Agricole (MSA) of Lorraine. As the name suggests, apart from Aspa for foreign residents, this body’s main responsibility is agricultural pensions for the Lorraine region of France.

What are the conditions of claiming?

  • You must be aged 65 or above.
  • If you are of French or an EEA nationality, you obtain the right if you are a resident of France. This also applies to Britons covered by the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement
  • With minor exceptions (refugees, Algerians…), if you are of a non-EEA nationality, including Britons who moved to France since January 1, 2021, you can only claim if you have previously lived legally in France for at least 10 years, holding a residency card that permitted you to work. This will not be the case for people who move to France as retirees.
  • You must be a legal resident of France. France considers this applies if:

You have your permanent main home in France. This is the place where you live ‘habitually’.
Your main place of residence is France. This is the case notably if you are in France for more than six months (or 180 days) in the year in which you are claiming.

  • Your income must be below a certain ceiling.
    For a single person it must not be above €906,81/month of gross income (€10,881.75 per year).

Income as a couple should not exceed €1,407.82 per month or €16,893.94 per year.

How much do you get?

Aspa tops up your income to the levels mentioned above. So, when only a single person receives it, the maximum amount that could be paid is €906.81 per month and when both members of a couple (married, pacsed or civil partnership or long-term partners) receive Aspa, the maximum total amount paid is €1,407.82 per month (a maximum of €16,893.94 per year). 

The right to Aspa for members of a couple is linked to their combined income, however there could be only one claimant, for example if one person is under 65.

The maximum amounts would only apply if you have no other income, apart from certain categories which are not taken into account, such as French APL housing benefit, AAH disability benefit, APA benefit to help with dependency needs at home, or cash help from your children.

How do you apply?

People who have paid into a French pension fund through work, apply to that fund.

If you are not entitled to receive a French pension, the application is via this form which should be submitted to your local mairie (in larger towns this will be the section called the centre communal d’action sociale or CCAS). The form can also be obtained from the mairie, and it should be able to advise you on how to fill it in. It includes a section in which you must give details of all your key incomes in the three months before applying.
For people who have never paid French pension contributions Aspa is organised by Saspa, a body which now forms part of the MSA agricultural pensions body.

Supporting documents required include:

  • A copy of your passport or French ID card, as well as copies of documents proving your residency rights such as your Brexit Withdrawal Agreement carte de séjour, or copies of your residency card/s showing the right to work over a 10-year period
  • A bank details RIB
  • If applicable, your last avis d’impôt French tax notice (or Asdir no-tax notice, if you fell below the tax threshold), as well as for your partner if you are in a couple
  • A copy of a document proving you live in France. This could include rent receipt slips, utility bills, or an attestation from the mairie.

Points to note:

  • Aspa may be recovered, partly or wholly, after death from your estate if the net assets (i.e. assets minus debts) are at least equal to €39,000. If the estate's net assets are less than this amount, there is no recovery. 
  • Some property owners are exempt from property tax on their main residence and this exemption is granted automatically for holders of Aspa 
  • You should be sure to tell Saspa about important changes to your income and to personal circumstances, such as moving home.

Read more

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