WITH so many people leaving the UK to take up residence in other EU countries, including France, there are always dozens, if not hundreds, of questions to be answered.
For some people giving up their old lives and leaving family and friends is complicated by whether they will continue to receive the allowances and benefits they receive in the UK. This causes stress, worry and doesn't improve health problems.
From experience this process is a minefield and sometimes even the 'experts' get it wrong! When my husband enquired about continuing to receive Incapacity Benefit he spoke to three people and got three different answers. He then demanded to speak to someone in authority and we were told, yes we can continue to receive it and it is now paid into our French bank account.
Everyone has their own individual needs and requirements so it is always best to discuss these with the Department for Work and Pensions.
The Department for Work and Pensions provide the right paperwork to enter the health system in France and obtain a Carte Vitale which you need to obtain health services. Much has been written about the E121 and E106, the documents which are required by CPAM (Caisse primaire d'assurance maladie) to issue the Carte Vitale.
CPAM is regional so each region has its own and you will find the one for your region in the telephone directory or ask at a pharmacy.
Once accepted you are given a rating of how much repayment you will receive it is usually around 70 per cent but for disabled people it can be up to 100 per cent.
You will need the Carte Vitale for a visit to the doctor and to the pharmacy for medication. I even received a prescription for a basic wheelchair from my family doctor, free. If I wanted a more sophisticated one I would have had to pay the difference in price.
However, you will also need to take out extra insurance, mutuale, to cover optical, dental and hospital fees.
The Department for Work and Pensions website is not the most user friendly I have come across but it does hold some useful information when you track it down, here are some of the key sections:
Jobseekers Allowance (JSA):
If you have been receiving UK contribution based JSA and are registered available for work at a UK Jobcentre Plus office or Jobcentre you may be able to carry on receiving UK contribution-based JSA for up to three months while you look for work in the EEA.
But you must have been receiving the JSA before you go abroad; more on Jobseekers Allowance here.
UK Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit:
To continue to receive Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit you must be employed, self-employed and pay contributions under the UK scheme.
But it is possible to receive Child Benefit in France. My daughter opted to receive Child Benefit from France through CAF (Caisse d'Allocations Familiales) she receives this straight into her French bank account and she has to report any change in her situation.
However, she had to produce a letter from the UK saying they were no longer paying her Child Benefit. They can also help with accommodation. More information on Child Benefit here.
Maternity Pay and Statutory Maternity Pay:
Visit the Department for Work and Pensions site here.
A lot has been said recently about Incapacity Benefit (IB) and about how it works and how it is awarded.
IB is paid on three levels:
- short term lower rate for the first 28 weeks
- short term higher rate from the 29th to 52nd week
- long term rate from 53rd week
It is paid to sick or disabled people who are unable to work and are under the age to receive a UK State Pension. That is under 60 for women and under 65 for men. Read more on how state pensions can be paid.
Once you reach the official retirement age then Incapacity Benefit will stop.
IB can still be paid if you move to France and can be paid into a French bank account. Periodically you might receive some paperwork which you have to complete and sign to state your situation has not changed; this has to be witnessed by someone on a list that is provided.
We have had this done by our notaire. As we live in an area where there are few English speakers we asked for a copy of the paperwork in French, which can be done and it is now noted on our file that this will happen in the future.
Read more about Incapacity Benefits here.
Both my husband and I receive Government pensions which remain taxable in England, our Incapacity Benefit is taxed in France so we are under the double taxation rule which means both countries are aware of liabilities in the other country so we are not taxed twice on our income, see explanation of Double Taxation here.
Working Tax Credit, Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance and Carers Allowance:
The DWP states that If you move to another EEA state you cannot usually be paid Working Tax Credit, Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance or Carer's Allowance.
I understand some people have challenged this by quoting 'EEC Council Regulations 1408/71 which appears to state that for the purpose of claiming social security benefits where residence is a qualification, residence in any other Member State counts as residence in the original Member State.'
But I do not know the outcome of the investigation; as far as I am aware these allowances are not paid to people living outside of the UK. See the DWP page here.
Winter Fuel Payments:
In certain circumstances Winter Fuel Payments can be paid to people living in France, if you received or would have been eligible for a WFP in the UK before leaving the UK. Read more on winter fuel payments here.
The Department of Work and Pensions would also like us to consider our long term options.
In giving up your life in the UK you may be severing ties with close family and friends and the DWP asks how would you cope if left alone or ill. They recommend investigating what facilities are available where you intend to move to, see here.
There are some things that we don't want to think about but which are necessary to contemplate. Should you find yourself in the position of losing a loved one or of a child losing a parent you have to be reassured you or they will not be financially troubled. The DWP page here gives advice and explains how they can help you deal with the situation.
If you do need help or assistance as a disabled person or with reduced mobility COTOREP are an association who give assistance and technical aides to improve everyday life for disabled and elderly people. They also issue the French version of the Blue Parking Badge and possibly a Carte d'Invilidité.
But, be warned it does take a long while for the parking badge to arrive so approach them early!
What I have tried to do is pick through the possible questions you may have and explain briefly the DWP take on them, but also give you the chance to read for yourself their explanations.
As I pointed out we are all different, so evaluate your own needs and requirements then telephone, write or e-mail the department in question; you can then make the move knowing you can cope, but also be secure and most of all have peace of mind.