Any help or advice appreciated

I have a dilemma and don't know what to do. So here I am looking for any help or advice you can offer. I'll try to summarise my situation as simply as possible though it's actually very complicated.

I'm married to a French man and came to live here in 2005. At the moment we are in the Loire Atlantique. I came here for my health. I have M.E. and Fibromyalgia.

Unfortunately our marriage has broken down and I'm looking at options and a way out.

It's far from easy when you are ill have no support network, no money and no family back in the UK who can help.

I'm looking at options and none of them seem easy.

If I stay in France I will at least have some furniture and all my personal possessions. But I have to find somewhere to live on my own that I can afford. It would have to be something small to rent as I have ESA from the UK and AAH (Allocation Adulte Handicapé).

Or do I go back to the UK with next to nothing and fall on the mercy of the council where I was living before I came to France. I have no family or friends that I can stay with. Plus I would have to leave all my furniture and personal belongings here. Add into the equation that I can't drive!

I have no savings and only my benefits. I'm trying to get my pension released early but that would mean going to the UK and if I failed in that I would have absolutely nothing.

I'm now 58 and my government pension is due to be released when I'm 60.

So I could try and stick it out in France. I would have hopefully peace and quiet. I love the country and can speak reasonable French.

If I do find somewhere else to live I could be very isolated but then again I already do to a certain extent as I'm mostly house bound.

Even if I go back to the UK I could still be isolated although able to sometimes see friends.

I have a meeting coming up with Solidarity Femmes and Social Services who will help me.

I just wanted as many opinions on this as possible. Any comments, help or advice will be welcome.


Sadly I have been there - TWICE. I had no choice but to stay (children involoved) but to be honest I think I am better off here than had I gone back.

Like you I don't drive, until literally last Sunday I was in receipt of AAH (long story but I' didn't renew my AAH claim and am now on RSA) My gut feeling would be stay - you don't really have any 'friends' to go back to in the UK and could well end up being more isolated than if you stayed

Hi Rosalynde, I’m v very sorry, with comp problems I’ve only just seen your discussion again this morning, also had forgotten-oops, I do that a lot these days. So sorry also to read of your situation again with your health. My marriage also ended 2.5 years ago, Problems worse than mine but I really do understand how you feel and where you’re at right now.

I’ll friend you and we can then pm each other and swop phone nos if you like? Bon courage, I’m sure we can help each other in some way! Best wishes, Shirley

This is the first time I've had a chance to post here since last Friday. I had a weekend from hell with my husband. I won't give you all the sorry details. He needs to get help and be hospitalised but refuses it. I had the maire involved on Monday but before anything could be done my husband drove off. He took our cat in the car and told a friend that he was planning to kill himself. There were a couple of messages saying that he was sitting under a tree with our cat and was ready to kill himself. So the police have been involved and trying to find him. So far they have tracked him not far from the Switzerland border but not found him. On the way, because he has no money, he filled his car with petrol and drove off without paying. He has no money and so I don't know how he's coping. Still I'm more upset about our poor cat Fifi. How could he take her like that? He's not in his right mind. So now I'm planning and sorting out a new start and a new life for me. Sue Stanley has kindly offered me her flat and we are working out things together. I have to say she is a very kind and generous lady. I want to move and get out of this situation as soon as possible. So she's my life saver. Thanks so much Sue xxx

Just popping on briefly today to say thank you for all the help, support and encouragement I've received. I really do appreciate it and has given me courage to continue fighting for what I want and a way out of this awful situation.

Today I have been to see my doctor who is very understanding and helpful. He has arranged for someone to come and see my husband who seems to be deteriorating fast. He needs help and medication but he is unwilling to see the doctor. It's very hard to get help for someone with mental health problems. Has anyone ever had experience of this?

I didn't have ESA before coming to France and I didn't know I could apply until by chance I find out via someone else. As far as I know DLA doesn't apply outside the UK. I've had to see a specialist (close as possible) here in France and then every so often get a statement from a doctor. I can give you or anyone else the info to apply in the UK.

Thanks Rosalynde for the answer I think I understand how it works for you; because you had ESA before going there. I still worry that for anyone going to France in the future (i.e. leaving the UK system), the DWP won't continue any claim. It was publicised that benefits would only be paid for 2 or 4 weeks - to prevent people moving to Spain and coming back once or twice a year as if they were on extended holidays abroad. Maybe ESA was excluded but DLA stopped yet I thought that DLA had to be paid there in EU law, that the British Gov't lost in the European Courts.... I do know that those who emigrated outside the EU had their DLA stopped. Alas it is confusing.

Thanks Shirley I agree having to state publically what your circumstances are cannot be enjoyable but it helps others to see how the systems work.

50% - 80% for AAH

More than 80% for the higher payment. Can't recall the name right now.

I was assessed by the Maison Handicapé and to be reviewed in 2015

Are you considered 'handicapped' enough to qualify for AAH ? Thought the level was 80% ?

I can only apply for ESA and whilst I'm sick that's indefinite. DLA doesn't apply here and that's why I applied for Allocation Adulte Handicapé. The ESA is renewable, for me at least, about every two years. One other tip - if you come to France and have already been diagnosed with an illness or disability it's a good idea to have an official letter confirming that by a doctor in the UK. Then you need to find a doctor here in France who is understanding and sympathetic. My first doctor was pretty useless but my current one is better and can even speak some english. Please let me know if I can help in any other way. I have many years of experience_ sadly.

Yes the pension bit is now very clear thank you, that was my mistake in not understanding before. And yes I follow why you got ESA (well Incap' anyway) but I thought they had stopped paying these benefits to anyone living overseas - reportedly after 1 month or even 2 weeks abroad. Can you please confirm again that the British system do continue to pay ESA (including the DLA element if you know) now? Your present claim may be from a year or so ago. I'd like to know if you have been told it will continue since that claim. Thanks in advance.

Today I had planned to use a local service called Lila a la demande

so as to go into the local town, to the market, do a few errands and to do a little shopping. My husband had said last week that if I wanted to go anywhere or do anything I should sort myself out. So I did!

Then he followed me all morning even though I wanted to have some time to myself. He says that wherever I go or whatever I do he'll be behind me! So he's now stalking me. He says he loves me but this love is suffocating and obsessive. I know he's not well as he keeps crying and is depressed. He's been in a psychiatric hospital a few times and maybe needs to go back in one. It's very hard to get someone admitted. Unfortunately I have a lot of experience of that. So if anyone wants any help in that area please ask me!

Hi Billy, I applied for Incapacity Benefit not long after I came to France and because I had been working until I became sick I was entitled to the benefit. It's now changed to ESA. Over the years I've had to see a French doctor when making a new claim and he's had to fill in a form (the form is in English and French). I don't get state pension when I'm 60. It's a local government pension. I have a statement come every year and it's clear that I can start to claim that pension when I'm 60. The government pension will obviously comes later. I hope that helps you and anyone else.

Hi Rosalynde I am glad to see the masses of support offered here, I have two questions though; How do you claim and get paid ESA if you are in France and have been for 8 or more years? plus you say you'll get your state pension at 60 while you are in your late fifties now, but I know someone female, slightly older who had their retirement state pension age increased to well beyond 60 by the government as I thought everyone has?

The last time I went to the UK was about three years ago and I really hated it. With my illness I'm so sensitive to so many things. I've become used to the quieter qnd slower pace of life.

Well done Peter! and thank you! It is just the thing that is needed. A place to run to which provides security and peace - this is the kind of practical solutions I was on about in my last post. France is littered with empty habitable properties - many of them owned by ex pats who are trying to sell. Everything is possible if we help each other instead of turning away with the I'm all right Jack attitude. All it takes is the will and a kind heart.

Your property is so much better for Roselynde than any womens shelter, it comes with dignity and hope - a peaceful stressless place giving her a chance to think, to form ideas, to be positive and to move forward. In short it helps her to stand on her own two feet. Now she is surviving rather than living - I am sure when she wakes up in the morning these days, she wonders what it is all for and how she will cope with another day laying ahead of her. With practical help she can change such an awful existence into a great life. It may be that your property is not the solution for Roselynde, but it is a pretty good start and maybe, as you say, it can be a help to someone else in dire need.Thank you Peter for being the first one to offer that help.

A fund may very well be possible. Hopefully it will not be dismissed out of hand. There are so many people, ex pats living in France,who heed help these days.....I am reasonably good at dealing with functionaires, telephoning and speaking in french with them, filling in forms and finding info and entitlements in france. If anyone needs any help like this please do not hesitate to contact me by sending a friend request please through this site.... After all, it is called Survive France for a reason....

Haute Vienne/Charente border

Have pm'd you RosalyndeXX

Where do you live Peter? That sounds like the sort of thing I'm looking for. I would so love that breathing space, to rest and recover and to sort out my way forward. With my husband here 24/7 it's so hard and he's watching and looking at what I do all the time!