Frequently Asked Questions : Retirement and pensions

Find here the answers to frequently asked questions about your French retirement pensions.

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Is there an agreement between the United States and France with regards to retirement benefits?

Yes. An agreement was signed on July 1st 1988, referred to as the bilateral social security agreement, whose purpose is to avoid that a French or American national who is temporarily working in the other country has to make their retirement contributions twice, or that s/he loses her or his rights while s/he is away.

Broadly speaking, the agreement ensures that an employee only makes his or her retirement contributions once, in the country in which s/he works, and that his or her contributions will be calculated in such a way that s/he will be able to benefit from the rights s/he has accrued in the other country. For more explanations, contact the Social Security Administration at +1 (800) 772-1213 and ask for the administrative brochure SSA Publication No 05-10187 "Agreement between the U.S. and France".

N.B.: By “Social Security,” the United States only refers to the right to a pension, a survivor’s pension, and some disability pensions, but not to a health insurance plan (except the Medicare program which retirees covered by the American national retirement program that live in the US are entitled to), family allowances, or unemployment insurance.

Under what conditions do I qualify for France’s retirement program?

You qualify for France’s retirement program if you are 60 years old and:
- You have contributed to France’s retirement program as an employee, even if this occurred a number of years ago and for a very short time period (at least one trimester); if you have not accrued enough trimesters to qualify for a full pension, your benefits will be proportional to the number of trimesters that you contributed, or if:
- You contributed to the French Social Security voluntary retirement insurance program (through the “Caisse des Français de l’étranger” (fund for French citizens living abroad));
- You are employed by a French firm in the US: your company has its headquarters in France, so you are treated like all employees in France and your employer pays retirement contributions on your behalf.

I currently work outside of France and I would like information about supplementary insurance plans.

You are eligible for these plans if:
- Your company (French or foreign) adheres to France’s complementary insurance programs, and if it has decided to make you eligible for the territorial extension that it has established for its employees regardless of nationality (insofar as they already entitled to ARRCO and/or AGIRC benefits, or, if they are affiliated with the “Caisse des Français de l’Etranger” i.e. the fund for French citizens living abroad).

In any one of these circumstances you will be able to qualify for the complementary insurance plan that is managed by :
ARCCO (both executives and non-executives)
Association des régimes de retraites complémentaires
44, boulevard de la Bastille - 75012 Paris
Phone : 01.44.67.12.00 - Fax : 01.43.42.14.61
Website: www.arrco.fr
AGIRC (executives in the second and third salary levels)
Association générale des institutions de retraite des cadres
4, rue Leroux - 75116 Paris
Phone : 01.44.17.51.00 - www.agirc.fr

In the event that your employer has not subscribed for the territorial extension, you can join the CRE and the IRCAFEX on an individual basis regardless of your nationality, so long as you are already entitled to ARRCO and/or AGIRC benefits, or if you are affiliated with the “Caisse des Français de l’Etranger” i.e. the fund for French citizens living abroad.

Both of these institutions, the CRE and the IRCAFEX, have the exclusive authority under ARRCO and the AGIRC to manage individual enrollments as well as enrollment from companies that are based abroad. For executives, the individual enrollment presupposes that s/he will already be enrolled with IRCAFEX.
4, rue du Colonel Driant - 75040 Paris Cedex 01
Phone: 01.44.89.44.44 - Fax : 01.44.89.44.48 -
Emai: international@groupe-taitbout.com
Website : www.groupe-taitbout.com

You can also purchase supplementary retirement coverage from a private insurance company.

I am nearing retirement age, how could I obtain a report of my career record and estimated benefits?

- If you contributed to France’s social security program:
To plan for your retirement, you can ask for your career record as soon as you are 55 years old on the CNAV orinfo-retraite websites.
- If you contributed to the Social Security program in the US:
The Social Security offices will give you form SSA-7004 : "Request for Earnings and Benefit Estimate Statement" to fill out.

I reside in the United States on a permanent basis and I would like to receive my French retirement benefits, who should I address the request to?

In accordance with the pension agreement that was reached on March 2nd 1987 between France and the United States, any person living in the United States must make his or her request for French retirement benefits at a local US Social Security office.

Steps to take:
- Appear at a local US Social Security office to fill out the SSA 2490 form.
- The form will be sent to the Social Security office in Baltimore, which is the central location at which applications for retirement benefits will be processed. As soon as the SSA in Baltimore receives your application they will send you a receipt.
- A linkage form that certifies the date at which the request for French retirement benefits has been made and the identity of the person making the request will be communicated by the SSA in Baltimore to the CLEISS (Centre des Liaisons Européennes et Internationales de Sécurité Sociale, i.e. the Center for European and International Liaison on Social Security) which will then transfer it to the CNAV (Caisse Nationale d’Assurance Vieillesse i.e. National Pension Fund for Employees).
- The CNAV will then contact you so that you can complete the French national form requesting retirement benefits. The person making the request must attach to his or her application a form with his or her bank details that has been translated into French so that the pension benefits can be wired to him/her.

I live in the US, do I qualify for survivor’s benefits under the French Social Security pension program?

If you are a widower or the divorcee of someone who was covered by the French Social Security pension program and you have not remarried, you could receive survivor benefits. To qualify you must:
- Be at least 55 years of age;
- Have been married for two years. The length of the marriage can be less than two years if you have a child from the marriage.
- Have personal resources that are inferior to a certain sum at the time of applying for survivor benefits.
Survivor benefits can be shared between the surviving widow and one or more divorcees or spouses that have not remarried. In this case the survivor benefits are divided between each of these individuals in proportion to the length of their marriage to the deceased. For more information on survivor benefits: https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/N378

Administrative steps to follow:
- Appear before a local US Social Security office to fill out form SSA 2490.
- The form will be sent to the Social Security office in Baltimore, which is the central location at which applications for retirement benefits will be processed. As soon as the SSA in Baltimore receives your application they will send you a receipt.
- A linkage form that certifies the date at which the request for French retirement benefits has been made and the identity of the person making the request will be communicated by the SSA in Baltimore to the CLEISS (Centre des Liaisons Européennes et Internationales de Sécurité Sociale, i.e. the Center for European and International Liaison on Social Security) which will then transfer it to the CNAV (Caisse Nationale d’Assurance Vieillesse i.e. National Pension Fund for Employees).
- The CNAV will contact you so that you can fill out a national request for survivor benefits.

The person making the request must join to his request file a bank certificate that has been translated into French so that the wire transfer of the pension funds can subsequently be made.

I am returning to France definitively and I would like to receive my US Social Security benefits in France, to whom must I make the request?

Before leaving the US, contact the Social Security Administration and ask for the administrative booklet SSA Publication No 05-10137 : "Your payments while you are outside the United States".

Once you have arrived in France, contact the US Embassy in Paris:
Service des pensions (Federal Benefits Unit)
2, rue St Florentin - 75382 Paris Cedex 08
Phone : 01.43.12.22.22 - Fax : 01.42.66.97.83

Don’t forget to notify your pension program in France as well so that they have your new mailing address and banking information.

How can I receive my supplementary retirement benefits?

France has a number of complimentary retirement funds spread out through the different professions. Requests for retirement benefits must be addressed to them directly. If you have contributed to a supplementary retirement fund in France and you are living abroad when you decide to cease working, you must contact the association for supplementary retirement funds (ARRCO) so that they can provide you with more details and advice, and so that they can process your request.

ARRCO
Service des Résidents hors de France
16-18 rue Jules César - 75012 Paris
Tél : 01.71.72.13.00
Website: www.arrco.fr

If you have contributed to a plan for executives, contact the association for pensions for executives:
AGIRC
16-18, rue Jules César - 75012 Paris
Tél : 01.71.72.12.00 - Fax : 01.71.72.16.00
Site internet : www.agirc.fr

When you write to the ARRCO or the AGIRC, make sure to include the contact details of your last French employer.

My retirement fund is asking me for a life certificate. How do I obtain this document?

In conformity with publication number 2001/31 of the Caisse Nationale d’Assurance Vieillesse, the Consulate does not provide life certificates any more. Individuals who receive French retirement benefits must obtain their life certificates from agencies in the United States.

You may refer to a “notary public”, which has the authority to fill out your life certificate. You can find a “notary public” in banks, financial service companies, tax preparer offices, insurance companies, some public libraries, etc.

Once your life certificate has the official stamp of approval you must send the original to your retirement fund without passing through the intermediary of the Consulate. We strongly encourage you to hold onto a copy of your life certificate as a precautionary measure.

Pay attention to how you write your dates:
July 5th 1945 is written 05/07/1945 in France but 07/05/1945 in the United States.
To ensure that your life certificate is accepted by the French retirement agency you must imperatively fill out the form the French way.

And to save time, you can now submit your form through the internet!
At www.info-retraite.fr by connecting to your retirement account;
Or on www.lassuranceretraite.fr, www.agirc-arrco.fr or https://retraitesolidarite.caissedesdepots.fr, by connecting to your “espace personnel” (personal account).

Can I purchase trimesters for my retirement retroactively?

If you haven’t yet applied for your retirement benefits, there are certain conditions under which you can make-up past payments to France’s retirement fund that were not made by you or your employer by contributing to the “régime général de la Sécurité Sociale” (France’s main public retirement fund).
You cannot make-up more than 12 trimesters.

Please note: If you are already receiving your retirement benefits from France’s general public retirement fund, you cannot make-up for past trimesters retroactively.

For more information: https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F15675

Where to obtain information?

In France:
The website “info-retraite” contains all the information that pertains to retirement in France: https://www.info-retraite.fr/portail-info/home.html.
In fact, it is info-retraite that manages the life certificates for all the public retirement plans.

The Caisse Nationale d’Assurance Vieillesse (C.N.A.V.) is the most important of the national retirement centers. It manages the old age insurance and the widower insurance for the “régime général de la Sécurité sociale” (France’s main public retirement fund).

C.N.A.V.
110 rue de Flandre, 75951 Paris Cedex 19
Tél : 01.55.45.50.00 - Fax : 01.55.45.51.99
Webite: https://www.lassuranceretraite.fr/portail-info/home.html
Information about retirement: Tél : 01.40.37.37.37
Information about payments: Tél : 01.55.45.52.20
General information and welcome desk for retirement-related matters: 01.40.37.37.37

In the United States:
https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement/

Last modified on 30/07/2020

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