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The French social security system: claiming benefits

Updated: Sep 21, 2022

Learn about the French social security system, including who is responsible for payments, how much is necessary, what is covered, and how to file a claim, in this comprehensive guide.


Non-French citizens are often needed to register with and contribute to the French social security system to qualify for some benefits granted by the French government, such as medical care. When discussing the French social security system, often abbreviated as la Sécu, it is helpful to first understand that it is segmented into several different types of programs or régimes.


There are five main parts to the French social security system.


● régime général, the overarching program that covers the great majority of employees and pupils;

● sickness insurance and the self-employed support system are known as "régime autonome"

● include benefits for those without work and those who have retired early;

● Agricultural Policies (Régime Agricole);

● specialized labor laws (régimes spéciaux), as used by, say, the government and the armed forces.

● Who in France is liable for social security taxes, and what are the associated benefits?


Staff members in France, as well as their social benefits,


The great majority of employees get medical coverage and maternity, paternity, and family leave benefits under the mandatory general system. Donations from individuals and tax breaks for working people provide the bulk of the necessary funds. Workers and businesses alike are accountable for these costs, which are administered by a complex system of government agencies. Furthermore, contributions from various pension systems are added to the general program's basic income to give a more secure financial foundation. All wage earners are required to participate in an unemployment insurance system that is administered by a body elected equally by workers and business owners. As an employee, your firm will handle the paperwork so you may enroll in government-run insurance programs like Social Security, unemployment benefits, and supplementary pension plans.


Workers who are self-employed and France's social security system


Self-employed workers may still get basic and supplementary health insurance, as well as retirement and family support benefits. However, you will need to purchase second insurance to cover severance and medical benefits.


Self-employed people may deduct most of their social security contributions.


The Union de Recouvrement des Cotisations de Sécurité Sociale et d'Allocations Familiales (URSSAF) is where self-employed people may sign up for social security. They will automatically enroll you in the various funds and give you the appropriate bills.


Health insurance is provided by specialized insurers under the Regime Social des Independents (RSI).


Caisse National d'Assurance Vieillesse des Professions Libérales (CNAVPL) is a retirement and disability savings plan for those working in liberal professions in France.


Artists and writers in need of social security management services should get in touch with Agesse or the Maison des Artistes.


Foreign students and social security in France


Students from the European Union (EU) or Switzerland who are under the age of 28 on October 1 of any given year are eligible to register with their local Caisse Primaire d'Assurance Maladie (CPAM) and be reimbursed for medical expenditures after submitting receipts to the CPAM. Students from the European Union and Switzerland are eligible for this.


Students from outside the European Union who will be under the age of 28 on October 1 must enroll in either the university's student health insurance program or a student health insurance fund like La Mutuelle des Etudients (LMDE).


Registration with the general social security plan may be done at your local CPAM if you want to study in France for more than three months and are older than 28 on October 1 of that year. This prerequisite is universal in its applicability. Find a local bank or credit union in this area.


Reciprocal agreements


With a select few countries, France has established mutually beneficial social security agreements. Seek official confirmation from the appropriate authorities in your own country before acting on this information.


The French social security system.


The most basic categories are as follows:


Disease, childbirth, childrearing, disability, and death


Occupational hazards, including accidents and sickness,


monetary aid for families


The Unemployment Insurance Program


Pension for the Elderly


Additionally, you may be subject to two distinct social security surcharges to help you pay off your social security debt.


Illness, giving birth, being unable to work, and passing away


In January 2015, the company contributed 13.10% of the total monthly payments while the employee contributed 0.75 %.


You need to have either paid in a specific sum or put in a certain number of hours to be eligible for benefits. This means you have probably worked for one of the following companies:


Minimum of 60 hours worked or donations equal to 60 times the minimum wage in a single calendar month;


120 hours of labor or contributions over three months, which is equal to 120 times the hourly minimum wage; or


Working or volunteering for 400 hours in a year is the same as working for 400 hours at the minimum wage.


Additional medical coverage may be made available to you via your employer, a mutual or provident fund, or an insurance company. Alternatively, you might go out and get it yourself. The cost of private or mutual insurance coverage might be substantial, but you may be eligible for a grant to help offset some of that cost. Even if you have a low income, the Universal Health Insurance Coverage program may be able to help you pay for your medical care (CMU and CMU-C).


Health and sickness benefits in France


If you qualify for health insurance, you and your dependents may get sick pay and reimbursements for medical costs.


Most French citizens must contribute to the cost of their healthcare and prescription drugs. Furthermore, there is a flat rate payment for doctor's visits and certain tests, but reimbursements of a proportion of the cost of prescriptions; in reality, around 75%-80% of in-patient expenditures are reimbursable.


To get sickness benefits, you will need a doctor's note verifying your illness. You will be eligible for financial compensation after missing four days of work in a row. The amount you will get each day is equal to half of what you made every day over the preceding three months. However, there are potential ceilings to think about, and they vary based on the details of your circumstance.


If you have been unwell for a while, you may be able to collect daily benefits for up to three years. Requests for compassionate leave to care for a loved one with a terminal illness may also be submitted.


The Caisse Nationale d'Assurances Maladie des Travailleurs Salarié Ameli website has a lot more details.


Maternity and paternity benefits in France


This includes:


a course of treatment administered from the time of conception to the time of birth,


benefits for the mother in the form of money when she is out of work caring for her child


a father's decision to take time off for paternity leave,


a leave of absence for adoptive parents that is shared between the two birth parents.


You should get in touch with the local health insurance pool as soon as you know the pregnancy's status for definite.


No deductibles, co-pays, or flat-rate fees will apply to any prenatal care services you get after your sixth month of pregnancy until the 12th day after giving birth. More so, you may begin receiving maternity benefits the minute you stop working.


You must take a maternity vacation of at least eight weeks, but you may take as much as sixteen weeks if you want to. Paternity leave lasts for eleven consecutive days. Adoption of an individual child currently has a ten-week waiting period. You must have been registered in Social Security for at least ten months before the day you are planning to give birth and have paid the requisite amount of contributions or worked the required number of hours to qualify for maternity benefits.


Maternity, paternity, and adoption leave benefits are calculated as a percentage of the employee's average daily earnings in the three months before the start of the leave. In 2015, this is subject to a quarterly cap of €9,510.


Invalidity benefits in France


This helps make up for time away from work due to illness or injury that is not connected to doing one's job. To qualify for it, your pre-disability income must have been at least three times what it is now or be reduced by at least that amount.


You need to have been enrolled in the health plan for at least a year before being incapacitated and jobless as a consequence of your sickness or accident, and you need to have worked a minimum of 800 hours or contributed to wages that are equal to 2,030 times the minimum hourly rate.


The amount of your disability compensation, however, will depend on how severely you are disabled. The minimum pension is now set at 30% of the social security threshold or €951 per month.


French death benefits


Following the insured person's death, a lump sum payment of 3,400 Euros (as of January 2015) may be given to the insured person's dependents. The deceased relative must have been working and contributing at an eligible rate for the three months before their death, or they must have been a disability pensioner or receiving industrial injury payments over 66%.


French workers' compensation for occupational ailments and accidental deaths


Employees who get ill or incapacitated on the job are compensated in this way. Contributions are required from employers, although the amounts they pay vary based on the specific dangers inherent in each workplace.


You are not obligated to join the Social Security system, and your lifetime contribution to the program is not significant.


The first 24 hours after an accident should be spent notifying your workplace; after 48 hours, your company should contact your local health insurance fund. If an injured worker submits the proper paperwork, they might earn up to €190.35 per day in compensation, plus a full day's pay for the day of the accident. Also, by filling out this form, claimants may avoid paying any of their medical fees up front.


Family benefits in France


Family benefits for children up to the age of 20 are available in France to anybody who does not work and has a monthly income of less than €893.25 regardless of whether the children are the biological, legal, foster, or adoptive offspring of the resident (or age 21 for housing and family income supplement).


Family benefit amounts are calculated by deducting a certain percentage from the BMAF, which as of April 2015 was €406.21 per month. As on July 1, 2015, they must undergo a means test.

Some of the advantages are:


a child benefit paid out of the second dependent's salary;


families with three or more children get a lump sum payment whose value decreases as the children become older


The family income supplement is available to families with three or more children and yearly household incomes of less than €45,941.


Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for one of many need-based grants that may help you pay for daycare. Children with disabilities are eligible for housing allowances and grants that do not consider the family's income level.


For a comprehensive look at the sums involved in all family benefit rates from April 1, 2015, through March 31, 2016, check out this chart provided by Le Cleiss.


If you have any questions about family allocations, please visit Allocations Familiales (CAF).


Benefits for unemployed people in France


Unemployment insurance premiums were 2.4% of gross pay in January 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. With a monthly ceiling of €12,680, employers contributed 4% of employee's wages.


Funds are being collected by URSSAF. For a visual representation of the range of possible increases in pension payments from both employees and employers, see this infographic by Le Cleiss.


Where do we stand?


You must be younger than the mandatory retirement age in France to qualify for unemployment benefits, and you must have been enrolled with the program for at least 122 days during the previous 28 months (or the preceding 36 months if you are above the age of 50). To qualify for unemployment insurance, you must have been let go from your job due to termination by your employer, the expiration of a fixed-term contract, a resignation for good reason, or a consensual decision by you and your employer.


You must find work, aggressively seek career opportunities, and accept suitable job offers. Pôle emploi registration is mandatory (jobseekers service).


What is it?


There is a monthly cap of €12,680 on unemployment benefits, the amount of which is calculated based on your contribution history and your income from the previous year. Unemployment compensation is paid daily. For those making between €2,149 and €12,680 per year, for instance, this equates to 57% of daily gross earnings.


To keep collecting unemployment benefits while still earning a paycheck, the combined amount received must be less than the average gross salary before registering as a job seeker. That is to say, you may continue to work while collecting unemployment benefits if you so want.


Old age pension in France


The mandatory retirement age for French citizens is 62 for those born on or after January 1, 1955; nevertheless, the typical retirement age in France is between 65 and 67.


After reaching the monthly salary ceiling of €3,170, both the employee and the employer pay a percentage of the remaining compensation, with the employee paying 6.85% and the business paying 8.5% respectively. Employee contributions are capped at 0.3% of total monthly compensation, with the company matching that at 1.8%.


Your pension is based on your top 25 years of salary that counted toward contributions, the payment rate, and the number of years you were covered. An employee may be able to resign from certain positions earlier than expected without jeopardizing their pension.


In addition, there are specialized pension plans for higher-ups in the organization. Both ARRCO (the Association for Employees' Supplementary Schemes) and AGIRC (the General Association of Retirement Institutions for Executives) are in charge of these plans, which are designed to supplement traditional pensions in retirement. The value of your pension is determined by multiplying your total number of points, which are determined by converting your yearly payments into points, by the value of a point at the time of calculation. The formula below will be used to calculate your pension. To get further data and information, go to AGRIC and ARRCO's respective websites.


Social security debt in France


There are two extra social security surcharges that French residents must pay on top of their regular taxes. Both the CSG and the Contribution pour le Remboursement de la Dette Sociale are named for these tacked-on fees (CRDS). Their compensation is based on the total amount of money made.


Earnings are taxed at a rate of 0.5% under the CRDS system, but they are taxed at 7.5% under the CSG system.


If you do not owe taxes in France, you also do not have to contribute to these systems. However, you must pay 5.5 percent of your salary into the health insurance fund for employees.

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