Documentation

The French Social Security System IV - FAMILY BENEFITS

2014

The Family Allowance Funds pay family benefits to employees and comparable categories, non-agricultural self-employed workers and, more generally, all residents of France with children even if they do not work.

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 for legitimate, illegitimate, adopted and foster children on the condition that they are dependants of the beneficiary.

Whether or not a child is considered as a "dependent child" is based on an assessment of a de facto situation. There is however an age limit for the award of benefits:

Formula used for the calculation of family benefits: family benefits are calculated as a percentage of the monthly family benefit base (BMAF). With effect from 1st April 2014, the BMAF has been increased to €406.21. 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:

A –BASIC MAINTENANCE BENEFITS

1) Child benefit

Child benefit is paid to families with two or more dependent children living in France. It is neither means-tested nor related to previous employment periods.

Child benefit rates since 1st April 2014 are 32% of the monthly benefit base (€129.99) for two children and 41% (€166.55) for each additional child.

The rates increase for each child except the eldest in families with fewer than three children. The increase depends on the age and dates of birth of the children:

2) Flat-rate allowance

This allowance is payable to families with three or more dependent children whose child benefit is reduced when one or more of the children reaches the age of 20 (the age limit for child benefit). To qualify, the family must be entitled to child benefit for three children or more, including the child who has reached their twentieth birthday. The flat-rate 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 amount of the flat-rate allowance is 20.234% of the BMAF, or €82.19 as of 1st April 2014.

3) Family income supplement

This is a means-tested benefit payable to families with at least three children aged between three and 21 years. The income ceiling varies based on number of dependent children and household makeup. To be eligible for this benefit in 2014, net household income in 2012 must not exceed: €37,295 for a single-income couple or €45,623 for a dual-income couple or single parent. If household income slightly exceeds this threshold, a supplementary benefit is paid.

The amount is equal to 41.65% of the BMAF, i.e. €169.19.

4) Family support allowance

This allowance is a non means-tested allowance payable for any orphaned or half-orphaned child, any child not regarded as a legitimate child of either parent, or any child whose mother and/or father fail(s) to provide adequate support.

This allowance is equal to 31.5% of the BMAF (€127.96) for any child orphaned of both parents or in a comparable situation, and 23.63% (€95.99) for a half-orphaned child or child in a comparable situation.

B – EARLY CHILDHOOD BENEFITS

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 programme (PAJE).

Early childhood benefits include:

1) Birth/Adoption grant

This means-tested allowance is intended to cover the expenses related to the birth or adoption of a child. It is payable during the seventh month of pregnancy 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.

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 2014, the family's net annual income for 2012 must not exceed €35,480 for a family expecting one child or €46,888 for two working parents or a single parent.

2) Basic allowance

The basic allowance 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. To qualify for the allowance it is necessary to submit to a compulsory medical examination within eight days of the birth of the child and during the child's ninth and 24th months.

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. The amount of the allowance is €185.54 per month.

3) Supplement for free choice of working time (CLCA) and optional supplement for free choice of working time (COLCA)

This non means-tested allowance is intended to allow a parent to stop working or work less in order to look after their child. It is paid either as a separate benefit or, when the parent fulfils the income conditions, on top of the basic allowance. It is payable as of the first child and is conditional on the parent having worked for at least two years during a given period which will depend on the child's order of birth in relation to their siblings.

Families with at least three children, whose last child was born or adopted after 1st July 2006 and with one parent who has given up work to look after the child, can opt for the optional supplement for free choice of activity (COLCA). The COLCA is paid on the condition that one parent gives up work completely. This benefit is higher than the CLCA but of shorter duration.

To qualify for either of these benefits, the parent must have worked during the full two-year period preceding the birth of a first child, during two years of the four-year period preceding the birth of a second child or during two years of the five-year period preceding the birth of a third child or any additional children.

The CLCA is paid for six months for a first child and up to the third birthday for a second child and any additional children. The COLCA is paid for a period of one year.

If the family is not entitled to the means-tested basic allowance, the amount of the basic allowance will be added to the supplement for free choice of working time.

The increased full-rate supplement for free choice of working time (in the case of total cessation of work) is €579.13. The partial rate in the case of part-time work for up to 50% of normal working hours is €440.37. If the duration of the part-time activity is between 50% and 80% of normal working hours, the supplement allowance is €333.01. The increased COLCA is €828.18. 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

The supplement for free choice of childcare is paid to a couple or parent using the services of a registered childminder or a childminder in the home. It is awarded either as a separate benefit or, if the parent(s) fulfil(s) the income conditions, on top of the basic allowance.

The benefit is made up of two different components: a component covering part of the childminder's wage and varying according to the child's age and the household's income and a component consisting of payment by the direct settlement system ("tiers payant") of all or part of the social security contributions payable as employer of the childminder (100% of the contributions payable for a registered childminder and 50% for a childminder in the home, up to a ceiling of 442 euros per month for a child under age 3 and 221 euros 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.

This benefit is also payable when the family uses the services of a private childcare facility. In this case the family pays an all-inclusive price to the institution, with no distinction between contributions and net wage. This supplement is therefore an all-inclusive flat-rate payment.

C – BENEFITS FOR SPECIAL PURPOSES

1) Education allowance for a disabled child

This non-means tested allowance is 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 32% of the BMAF, or €129.99 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 are as follows:

Parents can choose between the supplement and the disability compensation benefit paid by the Conseil Général, which is intended to contribute towards the cost of the continuing care needs arising from the disability. The supplement may 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).

Increase for single parents: Single parents of children in the second to sixth categories who stop working, reduce their work hours or hire paid help, are entitled to the following increases of the supplement: second category: €52.81; third category: €73.12, fourth category: €231.54, fifth category: €296.53, sixth category: €434.64.

2) Back-to-school allowance

This means-tested allowance is payable for any child of school age (6 to 18) as of 15th September of the relevant year, who is duly attending school. The amount payable depends on the age of the child to reflect needs.

The allowance is payable to families or persons with children aged six to 18 attending school, and whose income is below a certain level (which varies based on family makeup and number of dependent children). It is a lump sum to be paid by 31st October at the latest. 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 is:

3) Daily parental attendance allowance

The daily parental attendance allowance has replaced the parent's attendance allowance since 1st July 2006. It 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 €43.18 if the beneficiary is part of a couple and €51.30 for a single parent.

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 €110.45, a supplement 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.

5) Moving allowance

The moving allowance is a means-tested benefit payable to families with at least three children and who are entitled to housing benefits for their new home. The bonus is equal to the actual moving expenses, up to a limit of 240% of the monthly base used to calculate family benefits for families with three dependent children with a 20% increase per additional child. The maximum amount of the allowance is €974.90 for families with three children, plus €81.24 for each additional child.

As of 1st January 1997, all family benefits - except the special education allowance inclusive of supplement and the moving allowance - are subject to a 0.5% CRDS tax. The tax is collected directly by the Family Benefit Funds. The amounts shown above are the applicable rates before deduction of the CRDS.

For more information, visit the CAF website.