The French Social Security System IV - Family benefits

2021

The Social Security system's Family branch is organized into a network of 101 Department-level funds and one national fund.

The Family Benefit 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 78% of the minimum monthly wage or net Smic (€952.74);
  • 21 years old for the payment of housing benefits and the family income supplement (complément familial).

How family benefits are calculated: family benefits are calculated as a percentage of the monthly family benefit base (BMAF). The BMAF is currently set at €414.81 as of April 1st, 2021. 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 benefits

Family benefits are paid with no employment requirement from the 2nd dependent child residing in France. Family benefit rates are based on the income of the household or person with dependent children and the number of children. Net income from year N-2 is taken into account. There are 3 income brackets.

2) Flat-rate allowance

The flat-rate 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), is still living at home, and is not earning more than €952.74 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 €83.52 as of April 1st, 2021. 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.

3) Family income supplement

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.

Dependent children Income level Amount
Dual-income couple Single-income couple
3 children 23,929 € or less 19,562 € or less 257.88 €
Between 23,929 € and 47,853 € Between 19,562 € and 39,118 € 171.91 €
4 children 27,189 € or less 22,822 € or less 257.88 €
Between 27,189 € and 54,373 € Between 22,822 € and 45,638 € 171.91 €

The amount is the same whether there are 3 dependent children or more.

4) Family support allowance (Allocation de soutien familial/ ASF)

This allowance is paid to raise a child who is not receiving any support from one or both parents or as a top-up to a low child support award.

The family support allowance can also be paid as an advance if the other parent is behind on child support payments.

To be eligible, the claimant must meet the following requirements:

  • Be living alone,
  • Reside in France,
  • Have at least 1 dependent child,
  • If the child is working, his/her net monthly income must not exceed €952.74.

This allowance comes to:

  •  €155.55 for any child who has lost both parents or is in a comparable situation;
  •  €116.69 for a child who has lost one parent or is in a comparable situation.

B – Birth and early childcare 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 program (Paje), which consists of:

Early childhood benefits include:

  1. a means-tested birth/adoption grant,
  2. a means-tested basic monthly allowance paid from the child's birth to their third birthday or for 3 years if the child is adopted,
  3. 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,
  4. a supplement for free choice of childcare (CMG) at a rate based on family income.

1) Birth/Adoption grant

These grants are intended to help cover the expenses related to the birth or adoption of a child.

They are means-tested. 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 January 1st, 2021, the family's annual income for 2019 must not exceed €32,455 for a single-income family expecting 1 child or €42,892 for a dual-income household or a single parent.

The grant amounts to 953.03 € for each birth and 1,906.05 € for the adoption of a child under age 20. To qualify for the birth grant, the mother must have declared her pregnancy during the first 14 weeks.

2) Basic allowance

The basic allowance is paid following a birth or adoption grant award and helps with the child's maintenance and educational expenses. It is a means-tested benefit (with the same income ceiling as the birth grant) and is 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.

*The ceilings quoted above apply to single-income couples with one dependent child. The increased ceilings apply to single parents or when both parents have income. Income taken into account is for 2019.

A distinction is made between the following two circumstances:

  • Children born or adopted up to March 31, 2018
    The basic allowance is awarded at the full rate if income is €31,153* or less. This amounts to €184.62. The basic allowance is awarded at a partial rate, amounting to €92.31. when income does not exceed €37,216*.
  • Children born or adopted from April 1st, 2018
    The full rate basic allowance comes to €172.77 while the partial rate is €86.38. To be eligible for the full rate, income must not exceed €27,165*. The partial rate can be awarded up to €32,455*.

3) Shared child-rearing benefit (PreParE)/ Supplement for free choice of working time (CLCA)

The shared child-rearing benefit allows a parent to stop working or cut back to part-time in order to look after their child who is under age 3, or under age 20 if adopted.

It is not means-tested and is payable from the first child.

Work requirement: the parent must have 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 from the 3rd child on.

Length of award:

The shared child-rearing benefit (PreParE) is paid to each parent for:

  • 6 months for a first child,
  • 24 months 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 benefit (from April 1st, 2021 to March 31st, 2022) comes to:

  •  €400.79 at the full rate (total cessation of work);
  •  €259.09 at the partial rate when a parent cuts back to a maximum of 50% of the legal work week;
  •  €149.46 at the partial rate when a parent cuts back to between 50% and 80% of the legal work week.

The increased rate of PreParE is €655.11 per month. It can be awarded to a parent of 3 or more children who has stopped all forms of employment. It is paid at a higher rate than the basic PreParE benefit but for a shorter period of time.

4) Supplement for free choice of childcare (Complément de libre choix du mode de garde/ CMG)

CMG is intended to offset childcare costs for children under the age of 6. It is paid to a household or parent who is working and:

  • Is using a registered childminder (assistante maternelle agréée), whose gross salary must not exceed €51.25 per child per day.
  • Or uses a licensed organization or company that employs a registered childminder or a childminder in the home, if the child uses daycare services for at least 16 hours per month,
  • Or uses a small daycare center known as a micro-crèche, provided that the child attends the center for at least 16 hours per month at a maximum rate of €10 per month.

This benefit includes:

  • partial coverage of childcare expenses (up to 85%) by the Family Benefits Fund. The rate varies depending on number and age of children and household income. Income ceilings are increased by 40% for single parents.
  • total or partial coverage of employer's contributions at a rate of:
    • 100% if employing a registered childminder,
    • 50% for a childminder in the home. The amount of this coverage is capped at 473.05 € for children from birth to their 3rd birthday, going down to 236.52 € for children ages 3 to 6.

C – Benefits for special purposes

1) Education allowance for a disabled child (Allocation d'éducation de l'enfant handicapé/ AEEH)

The education allowance for a disabled child is a non-means tested allowance paid to those with a dependent child under age 20 (regardless of the child's order of birth in relation to their siblings) who has a permanent disability rating of:

  • at least 80%,
  • or between 50% and 79% if the child is in institutional care or receiving 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 €132.74 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, 2021 to March 31st, 2022) are as follows:

  • first category: €99.55
  • second category: €269.63
  • third category: €381.63
  • fourth category: €591.39
  • fifth category: €755.83
  • sixth and last category: the amount of the constant attendance allowance (€1,126.41).

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: €53.93
  • 3rd category: €74.67
  • 4th category: €236.44
  • 5th category: €302.81
  • 6th category: €443.85.

AEEH is awarded for a period the length of which is determined according to the following rules:

  • If the child's disability severity rating is 80% or more and is not expected to improve, the basic AEEH allowance (and any supplement) is awarded for an unlimited amount of time until the child ages out of family benefit eligibility or switches over to the disabled adult's allowance (AAH).
  • If the child's prognosis is for improvement, the basic AEEH allowance (and any supplement) will be awarded for a period of 3 to 5 years.
  • If the child's disability severity rating is between 50 and 79%, AEEH and any supplement will be paid for a period of 2 to 5 years.

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.

2) The disabled adult's allowance (Allocation aux adultes handicapés/ AAH)

AAH is awarded as a minimum-income benefit for people with disabilities.
Eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • The claimant must be over age 20,
  • Have a disability severity rating, as determined by the Committee for the Rights and Self-dependency of Disabled Persons (CDAPH),
    • of at least 80%
    • or between 50% and 79% along with a CDAPH-determined substantial and ongoing reduction of access to employment,
  • not be drawing an old-age, disability, or industrial accident pension amounting to €903.60 per month or more (maximum amount of the AAH).
  • not have financial means exceeding the following ceilings:
    • €10,832 for a person living alone
    • €19,607 for a couple.
    • These ceilings are increased by €5,416 for each dependent child.

The claimant's income for 2019 will be taken into account for AAH benefits paid in 2021.

The maximum AAH award is €903.60 per month as from April 1st, 2021. This amount is awarded to individuals with zero income.

Individuals drawing any type of pension receive the difference between the amount of their pension and the sum of €903.60.

AAH can be awarded for a period of:

  • 1 to 10 years for a disability severity rating of at least 80%:
    Effective January 1st, 2019, if certain requirements are met, Cdaph can award AAH for an indefinite period of time.
  • 1 to 5 years for a disability severity rating of 50 to 79%.

To learn more: handicap.gouv.fr

3) Back-to-school allowance (Allocation de rentrée scolaire)

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 in order to best reflect the family's actual expenses.

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 2021 (uprated on April 1st, 2021) is:

  • €372.17 for a child aged 6 to 10
  • €392.70 for a child aged 11 to 14
  • €406.31 for a child aged 15 to 18.

4) Daily parental attendance allowance (Allocation journalière de présence parentale/ AJPP)

The daily parental attendance allowance is paid to any person looking after a child under 20 who is suffering from a disease or severe disability or has been in a serious accident and requires constant ongoing attention.

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 submitted to the medical board of the claimant's Health Insurance Fund.

The amount of the daily allowance is €44.09 per day (€22.05 per half-day) if the beneficiary is living as a couple and €52.39 per day (€26.20 per half-day) for a single parent. It is paid for each day of leave from work, up to a maximum of 22 days per month.

The claimant 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 €112.79, a supplement of €112.79 is payable to families on incomes below a certain level, on production of the relevant receipts.

5) Death of a child

A lump-sum, means-tested benefit is paid following the death of a child under age 25 who was the member's current and ongoing dependent. This benefit is also due following the death of a child in or after the 20th week of pregnancy.

The amount of this benefit is determined by the parents' income and number of additional dependent children at the time of the child's death (year N-2).

As of April 1st, 2021, this benefit amounts to 2,012 € for a family whose income for 2019 was below 87,385 € with one child, or below 104,866 € with 4 children, and 1,006 € for families whose income exceeds these amounts.

6) Employment incentive (Prime d'activité)

The prime d'activité is paid by France's family benefits funds (Caf) and Agricultural social mutual funds (MSA) as an income supplement for low-wage salaried or self-employed workers.

Eligibility requirements:

  • Be over 18 years old,
  • Be employed or drawing partial or technical unemployment benefits,
  • Be residing in France on a stable basis,
  • Be a French citizen or a national of a European Economic Area member country or Switzerland, or be a national of another country and have been legally residing in France for at least 5 years (except in special cases).

Amount

The employment incentive (“prime d'activité”) is awarded at a rate which is:

  • determined by the claimant's total household income (this includes Family Benefits Fund (“CAF”) payments;
  • calculated automatically based on household makeup. It can include an individual bonus, which is awarded to each person in paid employment whose earned income is higher than 0.5 times France's monthly minimum wage (“Smic”).
  • and remains the same for 3 months, even if the claimant's circumstances change during that period.

A simulator is available on Caf's website to estimate prime d'activité eligibility and entitlements. The Employment Incentive (“Prime d'activité”) is not paid if it amounts to under 15 euros per month.

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.

Please also see the family benefit rate overview table and the CAF website.