The French Social Security System – Family Benefits
- The Social Security system's Family branch is organized into a network of 103 Department-level funds and one national fund.
The Family Allowance Funds (Caisses d'allocations familiales/ CAF) pay family benefits:
- to employees and comparable categories in all professions;
- to non-agricultural self-employed workers, and
- to all residents of France with children even if they are not employed.
Under Section L. 512-1 of the Social Security Code, "any French or foreign person residing in France with one or more dependent children also residing in France, is entitled to family benefits for those children".
Family benefits are awarded to persons acting as the real and ongoing custodian (food, housing, clothes) for legitimate, illegitimate, adopted, or foster children up to the age of:
- 20 years old (general rule) for children who are not working or whose monthly net earnings do not exceed 55% of the minimum monthly wage or Smic (€907.19);
- 21 years old for the payment of housing benefits and the family income supplement ("complément familial").
Finally, a flat-rate allowance is awarded to offset the financial loss incurred by families with three or more children when the eldest child reaches the age of 20. This is paid for a maximum of one year.
Formula used for the calculation of family benefits: family benefits are calculated as a percentage of the monthly family benefit base (BMAF). The BMAF is currently set at €407.84 as of April 1st, 2017. The BMAF is uprated on 1st April each year in line with the anticipated change in the average annual consumer price index excluding tobacco.
Family benefits include:
- basic benefits for maintenance,
- benefits to offset childcare costs and the costs incurred due to the arrival of a child which have been combined under the early childhood benefit program (PAJE),
- benefits for special purposes.
A – BASIC MAINTENANCE BENEFITS
Family benefits are paid from the 2nd dependent child residing in France. They are paid without any employment criteria. As from July 1, 2015, family benefit rates are based on the income of the household or person with dependent children (See amounts in the appendix).
This allowance is payable to families with at least 3 dependent children whose child benefit is reduced when one of the children reaches the age of 20 (the age limit for child benefit) and is not earning more than €907.19 in monthly income. To qualify, the family must be entitled to child benefit for at least 3 children, including the child who has reached their twentieth birthday. The allowance is paid on behalf of the concerned child for a period of 12 months, beginning on the first day of the month of the child's 20th birthday up to the month preceding their 21st birthday.
The monthly rate of this allowance is €82.52 as of April 1st, 2017. Essentially, as for family benefits, this amount is divided by 2 or by 4 depending on household income (year N-2). However, a supplement can be paid on a sliding scale if household income for calendar year N-2 is slightly higher than the applicable income ceiling.
This is a means-tested benefit payable to families with at least 3 children aged between 3 and 21 years. The income ceiling varies based on number of dependent children and household makeup. To be eligible for this benefit in 2017, net household income in 2015 must not have exceeded:
- €37,705 for a single-income couple with 3 children, or
- €46,125 for a dual-income couple or single parent. If household income slightly exceeds this threshold, a supplementary benefit is paid.
The amount of the family supplement comes to either €169.87 or €237.89 per month (amounts applicable as from April 1st, 2017) based on income bracket. The amount is the same whether the family has 3 dependent children or more.
This allowance is a non means-tested allowance payable for any dependent child under the age of 20 who has lost a parent, any child not regarded as a legitimate child of either or both parents, or any child whose mother and/or father fail(s) to provide adequate support. If the child works, his/her net monthly income must not exceed €907.19.
This allowance comes to:
- €146.82 for any child orphaned of both parents or in a comparable situation
- €110.20 for a child with one living parent or child in a comparable situation.
The various benefits to offset the costs due to the arrival of a child and help pay for the cost of childcare are grouped together under the early childhood benefit program (Paje).
Early childhood benefits include:
- a means-tested birth/adoption grant,
- a means-tested basic monthly allowance paid from the child's birth to their third birthday or from the arrival of the adopted child,
- a shared child-rearing benefit (PreParE) for all births or adoptions occurring after January 1st, 2015 or a supplement for free choice of working time (Clca) for all births or adoptions prior to 1st January 2015, with a required minimum period of contributions,
- a supplement for free choice of childcare at a rate based on family income.
This means-tested allowance is paid at birth or upon the adoption of a child under 20 years of age. The amount of the grant is €927.71 for a birth and €1,855.42 for an adoption. It is intended to cover the expenses related to the birth or adoption of a child.
To qualify, the expectant mother must prove that she has submitted to the first routine prenatal examination performed during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. The income ceiling depends on the number of children in the family and the number of babies expected. The ceiling is higher when both parents are working and for single parents. As of 1st January 2017, the family's annual income for 2015 must not exceed €35,872 for a family expecting one child or €45,575 for two working parents or a single parent.
The basic allowance helps with the child's maintenance and educational expenses and is paid after the birth/adoption grant. It is a means-tested benefit (the income ceilings being the same as those for the birth grant) paid from the date of the child's birth to the last day of the month preceding their third birthday.
In the case of adoption, the basic allowance is paid during the three years following the child's arrival, provided that the child is under 20 years of age.
As from April 1st, 2017, depending on income, the basic allowance comes to €185.54 at the full rate and €92.77 at the partial rate.
The shared child-rearing benefit (granted for children born or adopted from 2015) and the supplement for free choice of working time (granted for children born or adopted prior to 2015) are not means-tested and are intended to allow a parent to stop working or work less in order to look after their child. These two benefits can be paid separately or, when the parent fulfils the income conditions, on top of the basic allowance.
They are payable from the first child and are conditional on the parent having accrued 8 quarters of old-age insurance over:
- the previous 2 years for the 1st child,
- the previous 4 years for 2 children,
- the previous 5 years if the insured has more than 2 children.
Duration of Benefits
The shared child-rearing benefit (PreParE) is paid to each parent for 6 months for a first child, 24 months to each parent for a second child and 48 months for any additional children.
The supplement for free choice of working time (CLCA) is paid for 6 months for a first child and up to the 3rd birthday for a second child and any additional children.
The monthly amount of the PreParE/ CLCA (from April 1st, 2017 to March 31st, 2018) comes to:
- €394.06 at the full rate (total cessation of work);
- €254.74 at the partial rate when a parent cuts back to a maximum of 50% of the legal work week;
- €146.94 at the partial rate when a parent cuts back to between 50% and 80% of the legal work week.
For adopted children, the supplement for free choice of working time is paid for a minimum period of one year - even for children over three - and up to the age of 20.
4) Supplement for free choice of childcare (Complément de libre choix du mode de garde - CMG)
The CMG is paid to a couple or parent using the services of a registered childminder or a childminder in the home to care for a child under age 6. It is awarded either as a separate benefit or, if the parent(s) fulfil(s) the income conditions, on top of the basic allowance.
This benefit includes:
- partial coverage (up to 85%) of childcare costs, depending on the child's age and household income;
- total or partial coverage of employer's contributions:
- At a rate of 100% if employing a registered childminder
- At a rate of 50% for a childminder in the home, up to a ceiling of €447 per month for a child under age 3 and €224 for a child between ages 3 and 6. The supplement is paid at the full rate up to the child's third birthday, then at a reduced-rate until the child's sixth birthday.
C – BENEFITS FOR SPECIAL PURPOSES
The education allowance for a disabled child is a non-means tested allowance paid to parents of a severely disabled child under 20 years of age (regardless of the child's order of birth in relation to their siblings) and with a permanent disability rating of at least 80%, or between 50% and 80% if the child is in institutional care or receives care at home.
This allowance is not payable for children placed in residential schools, for which all costs are paid by the health insurance system, the state or social welfare.
The amount of the allowance is €130.51 per month. Children with a disability rating of at least 80% are eligible for an allowance supplement, the amount of which varies according to their needs or degree of disability. To determine the amount of the supplement, the child's condition is classified by a Committee for the Rights and Self-dependency of Disabled Persons (CDAPH) in one of six categories, using a rating scale that assesses the special care needs and costs, the financial consequences arising from the disability and/or loss of income for a parent staying at home to look after the child, and the need for a paid carer.
The monthly amounts of the supplement (from April 1st, 2017 to March 31st, 2018) are as follows:
- first category: €97.88;
- second category: €265.10;
- third category: €375.21;
- fourth category: €581.46;
- fifth category: €743.13;
- sixth and last category: the amount of the constant attendance allowance (€1,107.49).
- Individuals claiming AEEH and its supplement who are the sole provider and caregiver for a disabled child are entitled to a single-parent top-up. This is awarded when the child's state of health requires the single parent to stop working or cut back on his/her working hours, or to hire a paid caregiver.
On a category-by-category basis, this top-up comes to:
- 2nd category: €53.02,
- 3rd category: €73.41,
- 4th category: €232.47,
- 5th category: €297.72,
- 6th category: €436.39.
AEEH is awarded for a period of 1 to 5 years, depending on the child's state of health. This period can be extended if the child's disability is not expected to improve.
Families claiming basic Aeeh can choose:
- either the Aeeh supplement,
- or the disability compensation benefit (Prestation de compensation du handicap/ PCH).
- The AEEH supplement may also be paid concurrently with the "3rd element" of the compensation benefit, which is designed to help towards home and vehicle conversion costs and transport costs.
For more information on the disability compensation benefit (PCH), visit the website of the National Solidarity Fund for Autonomy (Caisse nationale de solidarité pour l'autonomie).
This means-tested allowance is payable for any child enrolled in school and between the ages of 6 and 18. The amount payable depends on the age of the child to reflect actual needs.
The allowance is payable to families or persons whose income is below a certain level (upper limits vary based on family makeup and number of dependent children). It is paid as a lump sum in August of each year. If the family's income is below the assessment ceiling, the allowance is paid at the full rate. If the family income is slightly above the assessment ceiling and below another limit decided by government order, a supplemental allowance is paid.
The full-rate allowance for fall 2017 is:
- €365.91 for a child aged 6 to 10
- €386.10 for a child aged 11 to 14
- €399.48 for a child aged 15 to 18.
The daily parental attendance allowance is paid to any person looking after a child under 20 and suffering from a disease or severe handicap requiring constant assistance and attendance. To qualify, the beneficiary must be obliged to take time off work and be granted parent's attendance leave. A doctor's certificate attesting to the child's medical condition must be furnished to the medical board of the relevant Health Insurance Fund.
The amount of the daily allowance is €43.35 if the beneficiary is part of a couple and €51.51 for a single parent. It is paid for each day of leave from work, up to a maximum of 22 days per month.
The beneficiary is entitled to 310 days of paid leave, paid on a daily basis and to be taken over a three-year period depending on the child's needs.
If the monthly expenses necessitated by the child's condition exceed €110.89, a supplement of €110.89 is payable to families on incomes below a certain level, on production of the relevant receipts.
4) Family housing allowance
This allowance is a family benefit intended to help families pay their housing costs. Payment of the allowance is contingent on the characteristics of the property in which the family is housed (surface area and conditions), the rent paid and the family's income.
The moving allowance is a means-tested benefit payable to families with at least 3 children and who are entitled to housing benefits for their new home. The bonus is equal to the actual moving expenses. The maximum amount of this award is €978.82 for families with 3 children, plus €81.57 for each additional child.
Important information: All family benefits, except the special education allowance (AEEH), are subject to a 0.5% CRDS tax. The tax is collected directly by the Family Benefit Funds.
For more information, visit the CAF website.
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