Retirement in France

I recently requested my code confidentiel from the Caisse Nationale d’Assurance Retraite so that I could check to see how many trimestres I have accumulated towards retirement in France. (Just type in your social security number and they’ll mail it to you.) For those born during or after 1952, you must accumulate 164 trimestres (41 years) in order to enjoy full retirement benefits. But with the trimester system, each month doesn’t really count – only every 3 months do.

So I have one trimestre for 2006, when I worked October to December during my first year as a language assistant. In 2007, I worked January to April and October to December, so I have two trimestres. And I will have another 2 trimestres in 2008 for working those same months.

Luckily starting in 2009, I will receive 4 trimestres. So if David & I decide to stay in France forever and I can continue to work at a permanent full-time job (Ha!), I can retire at the young age of 80.

I’ve worked on and off in the US since I was 16, so how can I check the status of my American retirement benefits? I have no idea how the system works in the US. And how does it work for expats who will most likely never work in the US again? And what if we end up working in Canada or Australia one day?

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  • http://davidsswamp.blogspot.com/ David

    “So how can I check the status of my American retirement benefits?”

    You can’t.
    My 7 years working in the US just didn’t happen for the French administration. I guess in their files, I just didn’t exist between 1998 et 2005, like I was some sort of limbo or something.
    Same thing if you go to Canada or Australia.

    But if that can make you feel better, by the time we reach the retirement age (I assume we’re not too far apart in age), the current retirement system will have cease to exist, because there will be too many retirees and not enough workers to finance them.

    Davids last blog post..Are you ready for some Football?

  • http://davidsswamp.blogspot.com David

    “So how can I check the status of my American retirement benefits?”

    You can’t.
    My 7 years working in the US just didn’t happen for the French administration. I guess in their files, I just didn’t exist between 1998 et 2005, like I was some sort of limbo or something.
    Same thing if you go to Canada or Australia.

    But if that can make you feel better, by the time we reach the retirement age (I assume we’re not too far apart in age), the current retirement system will have cease to exist, because there will be too many retirees and not enough workers to finance them.

    Davids last blog post..Are you ready for some Football?

  • http://www.ielanguages.com Jennie Wagner

    Just found this site: http://www.ssa.gov/mystatement/ I guess I automatically received a statement when I turned 25 last year, but it went to my mom’s house in Michigan so I never saw it.

    There’s also this site about agreements between the US & France on social security… I’m not sure what type of company you worked for in the US, but it may be possible to transfer the retirement benefits you earned in the US to France: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/international/Agreement_Pamphlets/france.html

  • http://www.ielanguages.com Jennie

    Just found this site: http://www.ssa.gov/mystatement/ I guess I automatically received a statement when I turned 25 last year, but it went to my mom’s house in Michigan so I never saw it.

    There’s also this site about agreements between the US & France on social security… I’m not sure what type of company you worked for in the US, but it may be possible to transfer the retirement benefits you earned in the US to France: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/international/Agreement_Pamphlets/france.html

  • http://toutesdirectionspourlafrance.blogspot.com/ L

    I know an American who’s been in France for years who teaches and she said the few years she worked in the US are counted towards her trimestres and her retirement. Part of the agreement between the US and France. However, I don’t know how it would work the other way around: retiring in the US with several years worked in France. That’s interesting that you were able to check your trimestres as well. I met an American free-lance English teacher/translator who’s lived in Toulouse for 14 years, and when he tried to check where he was for his retirement, they said they would only know when he was 3 years away from retiring. But maybe he just needed to ask someone else to get a different answer…

    Ls last blog post..Progress!

  • http://toutesdirectionspourlafrance.blogspot.com L

    I know an American who’s been in France for years who teaches and she said the few years she worked in the US are counted towards her trimestres and her retirement. Part of the agreement between the US and France. However, I don’t know how it would work the other way around: retiring in the US with several years worked in France. That’s interesting that you were able to check your trimestres as well. I met an American free-lance English teacher/translator who’s lived in Toulouse for 14 years, and when he tried to check where he was for his retirement, they said they would only know when he was 3 years away from retiring. But maybe he just needed to ask someone else to get a different answer…

    Ls last blog post..Progress!

  • http://www.laniortaise.blogspot.com/ LaNiortaise

    If you work in Australia, all employers must contribute to superannuation (retirement scheme) of minimum 9% of your wage. You can access this at about age 65. And yes this applies to foreigners working in Australia too. Even if you work a few years then leave Australia, you can then get whatever went into your super’ fund when you’re old ;)

    LaNiortaises last blog post..The Birth of Christ

  • http://www.laniortaise.blogspot.com LaNiortaise

    If you work in Australia, all employers must contribute to superannuation (retirement scheme) of minimum 9% of your wage. You can access this at about age 65. And yes this applies to foreigners working in Australia too. Even if you work a few years then leave Australia, you can then get whatever went into your super’ fund when you’re old ;)

    LaNiortaises last blog post..The Birth of Christ

  • nic

    Another note about Australia-unlike what it sounds like you have described for US and Frace the Aussie system is not state run. It is mandatory that any company you work for pays the 9% super, however it is paid to your nominated private or industry super fund which is basically a managed fund. All of them charge fees as far as I know. You can choose between different investment strategies, ie: high risk or protected capital.
    If you work just a few years in a system such as Australia’s and it is unlikely that you will return or settle in Aus you can apply for your benifits to be paid out. As the funds charge fees this would be preferable to waiting until you reach returement to retreive the money-because if you were not adding money the fees charged would whittle the money away. I do know that even Australian citizens can apply to cash out super in cases of extreme financial hardship.
    In Australia you can also choose self managed super where you have an arrangement where you invest the 9% yourself in government approved manners. This option is not chosen by many people and probably suits self-employed people more. However I do know some people who do it as a family -investing in shares/artworks/property etc. Obviously there is a risk and you need to know what you are doing. In general the system is reasonably flexible -there is also a co-contribution scheme where if you make extra payments the government also makes and extra one and doubles the additional payment up to a cut off point.
    The state pension is completely separate from the super schemes and is a very low government benefit that certain people can receive if for any reason they were never capable of working or do not manage to accumulate super . It is a very low payment and is really the last resort . I think most peopole who end up on this never worked and lived off unemployment benefits most of their lives-therefore no super at the end of it.
    I would be interested to know what happens to the french retirement benefits for people such as my husband who works for 10 years in france and who has now immigrated to Australia and is entering mid-way through his working life into the Aussie super system ! I’m guessing that the benefits will be staying in the pockets of the French government !!!

  • nic

    Another note about Australia-unlike what it sounds like you have described for US and Frace the Aussie system is not state run. It is mandatory that any company you work for pays the 9% super, however it is paid to your nominated private or industry super fund which is basically a managed fund. All of them charge fees as far as I know. You can choose between different investment strategies, ie: high risk or protected capital.
    If you work just a few years in a system such as Australia’s and it is unlikely that you will return or settle in Aus you can apply for your benifits to be paid out. As the funds charge fees this would be preferable to waiting until you reach returement to retreive the money-because if you were not adding money the fees charged would whittle the money away. I do know that even Australian citizens can apply to cash out super in cases of extreme financial hardship.
    In Australia you can also choose self managed super where you have an arrangement where you invest the 9% yourself in government approved manners. This option is not chosen by many people and probably suits self-employed people more. However I do know some people who do it as a family -investing in shares/artworks/property etc. Obviously there is a risk and you need to know what you are doing. In general the system is reasonably flexible -there is also a co-contribution scheme where if you make extra payments the government also makes and extra one and doubles the additional payment up to a cut off point.
    The state pension is completely separate from the super schemes and is a very low government benefit that certain people can receive if for any reason they were never capable of working or do not manage to accumulate super . It is a very low payment and is really the last resort . I think most peopole who end up on this never worked and lived off unemployment benefits most of their lives-therefore no super at the end of it.
    I would be interested to know what happens to the french retirement benefits for people such as my husband who works for 10 years in france and who has now immigrated to Australia and is entering mid-way through his working life into the Aussie super system ! I’m guessing that the benefits will be staying in the pockets of the French government !!!

  • http://emmygration.blogspot.com/ Emmy

    OMG! I missed this post Jennie and have just laughed out loud at it. 80? I guess it’ll be the same for me. Happy days.

    Emmys last blog post..Wales, a country apart

  • http://emmygration.blogspot.com Emmy

    OMG! I missed this post Jennie and have just laughed out loud at it. 80? I guess it’ll be the same for me. Happy days.

    Emmys last blog post..Wales, a country apart

  • Heather

    Don’t worry – we Americans won’t really get social security, anyway. That’s why Walmart is staffed by the octogenarian set. At least if you stay in France you’ll still have healthcare!

  • Heather

    Don’t worry – we Americans won’t really get social security, anyway. That’s why Walmart is staffed by the octogenarian set. At least if you stay in France you’ll still have healthcare!

  • Monetarie

    I’m a French citizen born in Nice in 1940,left in
    1947, lived on the west coast of the USA now
    I want to return to France to retire, are there any french government benefits available
    for me?
    Thanks in advance for any help

  • Monetarie

    I’m a French citizen born in Nice in 1940,left in
    1947, lived on the west coast of the USA now
    I want to return to France to retire, are there any french government benefits available
    for me?
    Thanks in advance for any help

  • Nathalie

    Hello,
    I am French too, work there very young for about 3 years, and for 30 years in the USA.
    A very good site to look at, with a ton of infos about retirement in France
    the social security systeme, between both countries, and the international agrement signed together.
    Worth checking .
    http://www.franceservice.com
    Go to : VIE PRATIQUE,
    Your answer is in it, lots of pages to read for different individuals, including web for US social security, for you to ask them your social security statement.
    Good luck, I am retiring in France also, in 2 years !!!!

  • Nathalie

    Hello,
    I am French too, work there very young for about 3 years, and for 30 years in the USA.
    A very good site to look at, with a ton of infos about retirement in France
    the social security systeme, between both countries, and the international agrement signed together.
    Worth checking .
    http://www.franceservice.com
    Go to : VIE PRATIQUE,
    Your answer is in it, lots of pages to read for different individuals, including web for US social security, for you to ask them your social security statement.
    Good luck, I am retiring in France also, in 2 years !!!!

  • http://www.pensionfinder.org.uk/ Pensions

    Informative and comprehensive article !
    It's takes advantages
    Thanks for sharing your time to post this site
    I really appreciate it ..

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Why is Jennie no longer in France?

I created this blog in September 2006 when I moved to France from Michigan to teach English. Many of the earlier posts are about my personal life in France, dealing with culture shock, traveling in Europe and becoming fluent in French. In January 2010, I started focusing more on teaching and learning languages in general. In July 2011, I relocated to Australia to start my PhD in Applied Linguistics. Although I am no longer living in France, my research is on foreign language pedagogy and I teach French at the university so these themes appear most often on the blog. I also continue to post about traveling (though now my trips are usually in Australia) and being an American abroad.

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