Can foreign retirees really claim ‘free pension’ after move to France?

We look at recent claims by far-right Rassemblement National president Jordan Bardella about the French Aspa benefit

Some retired people in France can claim pension top-up benefits
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Rassemblement National president Jordan Bardella recently claimed that most foreign senior citizens can move to France and easily start receiving the pension top-up benefit Aspa, worth up to €1,102/month.

Is this correct?

No, it is not, and the conditions for most over-65s to obtain this benefit are strict.

Mr Bardella recently told France Inter: “Today, if you come to France from abroad and are aged over 65, you get €600-700 in pension money, as a minimum.”

In fact France’s pension top-up benefit Aspa – allocation de solidarité aux personnes âgées – has to be claimed so no one receives it automati­­­cally as they must apply and show sup­porting documents. 

The state statistics body DREES has estimated that half of those eligible for some aid do not claim. 

What a person can claim largely depends on their means.

The maximum amount of Aspa is €1,102/month for a single person and €1,571/ month for a couple. 

However, the amount a person receives is equal to this sum minus their income from pensions, part-time work, investments or rentals. Disability and housing benefits are not counted as income.

This means the average claimant gets a few hundred euros a month, not the maximum, as obtaining the full sum would mean they had no other income apart from benefits

Eligibility also depends on residency status. EU citizens and holders of Brexit With­drawal Agreement cards can apply as long as they are settled residents, but other non-EU citizens can usually apply only if they have been in France for at least 10 years with a residency card allowing work.

Read also: How UK pensioners in France are dealing with ‘life certificate’ issues 

This means that, apart from EU citizens, foreigners cannot arrive as over-65s and start to claim. For retirees coming on ‘visitor’ residency cards, it could take 15 years or more, assuming they are able to obtain a carte de résident, which allows work, after the first five years. 

In a 2022 circular, French national pension body Cnav said an exception will be made for Britons coming after Brexit compared to other non-EU citizens.

It said they need to have come on a status allowing for work, but will not yet be held to the full requirement of 10 years, as no Britons prior to 2021 needed residency cards (

Information can be obtained from your French pension caisse, or, if you have never paid into a French pension – ie. because you have not worked here – your mairie. 

In addition, we note an error in a recent article on this subject in the French media. It states that one third of Aspa claimants are foreigners, linking to a study published by public sector finance watchdog Cour des comptes in 2021. 

The study says that more than a third of some 68,000 claimants who have never paid into a French pension regime are foreign. This is a small minority of total Aspa claimants, as most of them are topping up a French pension entitlement.

Read also: French benefits - help for over-70s and disabled people to stay in own homes

According to DREES, 512,400 people were claiming Aspa in 2021. In comparison, a third of 68,000 (22,666), is 4.4% of this amount, not 33.3% (a third).