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RSA: What is France’s back-to-work social benefit and who is eligible?

Around a third of people eligible for the aid do not claim it (2018 figures). Low-income pensioners can apply but a different benefit will give them more

France has a special aid to help people seeking to get back into regular employment or those with a particularly low income Pic: PanuShot / Shutterstock

The Revenu de solidarité active (RSA) is a government aid aimed at unemployed and underemployed people to encourage them to find work or increased income.

Around 34% of people eligible for the aid in France did not claim it in 2018, a study published on February 11 shows. 

This equates to around €750million in aid unclaimed. 

The idea of it is that people get a short-term income top up while they search for a new or more stable job, instead of falling back onto unemployment benefits. 

Read more: Housing, disability, family: the French state aids people do not know

There was talk at the beginning of President Emmanuel Macron’s five-year term in 2017 of making the allocation of the RSA automatic depending on a person’s recorded income. 

This never transpired and has now been abandoned with the announcement of Le revenu universel d'activité (RUA), set to come into force in 2023, which will fuse several aids and social benefits, including the RSA.

Who is eligible for the RSA?

Most people who are eligible are obliged to be actively hunting for a job or taking part in a project or initiative aimed at improving their financial situation. 

People who are in employment can also be eligible, but mostly those who receive an inconsistent income (freelancers, for example) or who work limited hours, as anyone in a stable job is likely to earn too much to receive the aid. 

You must update your financial situation every three months in order to continue benefiting. 

You can apply for the RSA if you are at least 25 years old and a resident in France.

You must also have lived in the country for at least three months at the time of your application, for EU citizens and Withdrawal Agreement card holders, or other non-EU citizens must usually have been in France for at least five years with a residency card allowing them to work (other exceptions include having the 10-year carte de résident or being a refugee).

A person under 25 can receive the RSA if they have never worked before and if they are the sole provider for at least one child, already born or due to be born.

Your household income must also be under a certain amount each month, taking into account any salary, social benefits, pension benefits, etc. 

  • For a single-person household, your complete monthly income must be lower than €1,696 over the past three months (the equivalent of €565.34 per month). 
  • For a single-person household who owns their property or is benefiting from a housing allowance or has free accommodation, the income must be below €1,492.50 over the past three months (equivalent to €497.50 per month). 
  • For a household that includes a couple without children, the income must be below €2,544.03 over the past three months (the equivalent of €848.01 per month). 
  • For a household involving two adults and children, the maximum income amount increases depending on the number of children. See here for a more detailed breakdown (in French). 

To find out if you are eligible for the RSA and how much you are entitled to, you can complete this questionnaire on your financial situation (in French).

Why people of retirement age should not claim for it

If you are over 65 and have a low monthly income, it is in your best interest to apply for the minimum vieillesse instead of the RSA, as you stand to get more money. 

The minimum vieillesse aid is more formally known as the Allocation de solidarité aux personnes âgées (Aspa). Find out more about it here

How much can you get from the RSA?

The monthly amount of aid for a single-person household is up to €550.93 per month, or €826.40 for a couple without children or €1,156.96 for a couple with two children.

It depends on your exact family situation and your income. See a simulator here to work out how much you can get.

How can you claim?

The RSA is allocated by either the caisse d’allocations familiales (Caf) or the agricultural social security department, mutualité sociale agricole (MSA), whichever applies to your situation. 

You can make a claim for the RSA online with the Caf by following this link

You can also apply in person at your local Caf office or by sending them a letter. 

You must first fill out this form if you have a salary, this form if you do not have a salary, or this form if you are under 25.  

Try this option if you need help applying for the RSA

If you are unsure of the application process for the RSA or any other social benefit in France, or if you have any related questions, you can seek help from your local France Services office. 

Find the nearest office using this interactive map here

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