One of the advantages of officially working in France is that you qualify for a state pension. A French public pension can’t be hijacked by a Maxwell clone in need of ready cash to renovate his yacht, but as world demographics lean towards an older population the state pension will diminish in value as fewer workers pay into a system which pays out to more retirees. This is the “pensions time bomb”.
The minimum French pension is as paltry as the British one but for high-earners a French state pension can be enough to live on. Many of us don’t even know how much our state pension will be but you can consult your “caisse primaire” to find out.
In principle, pension information is gathered together by them according to payments made by your employers or by you if you’re self-employed. If your career has been segmented by periods of self-employment and salaried activity, it’s quite possible that parts of your working life have been forgotten. This can be rectified but you do have to tell them where they’ve gone wrong and provide details.
Each year you should have received a recap called “Relevé Annuel de Compte” detailing the number of retirement “points” you have accumulated during your working life. The value of each point varies from year to year. So if a point is worth one euro and if you were to retire with 6000 points, your yearly pension would be €6000. Added to that would be any complementary schemes you or your employer have been paying into independently. These are also calculated on a similar point system. In some sectors, these schemes are automatic and most “cadres” (executives) benefit from these on top of the state pension.
As retirement draws nearer you will be sent a “relevé de carrière” of your retirement points. People born in 1947 and 1948 are automatically being mailed this year’s. It’s important that you check for errors – especially omissions – and that you inform the “caisse” of them. It’ll be much more difficult to do so later.
When you gotta go...
So you’ve decided that it’s time to retire? Get the paperwork going. If your career was segmented there could be as many as four different caisses to consult apart from any complementary and private plan you may have subscribed to. Luckily, these separate entities work together and you can consult any one of them in order to know the cumulative pension you can expect to receive from the others. The four main caisses are: la Cnav (salaried employees), la MSA (agricultural workers including gardeners), l’Organic (small self-employed businesses) and la Cancava (self-employed artisans and craftsmen). When you do decide to retire, any caisse you’ve contributed to can initiate your pension proceedings at your request.
Top it up!
Many of our advertisers (AXA, Blevins Franks, European Financial, John Gwilliam, Peter Johnson, Mike Lorimer, Mitchell-Johnson, Siddalls, Westerzee) can offer private plans and other ways to supplement your state pension. Give them a call.