Claiming UK Benefits After you Move Abroad

That is exactly why I didn't continue with my UK contributions, Brian. They told me that I would have to pay in X amount (more than I would have had I been resident in the UK) and that it would only go towards my pension - I would not be eligible for any other benefits. When I worked out how much it would cost to contribute relative to how much I would get in pension, it simply wasn't worth doing.

But it seems, they were a smidge misleading about the benefits part!

Yes, you can top up from outside the UK. In my case I was told four years ago for pension that started 13 months ago. The back payment they expected from me was huge and given the odds on surviving to really 'enjoy' the pittance I told them where to go. I have looked at the amount a full pension gives and seeing that that is less than a Bulgarian basic state pension and anyway I work, decided that I had done the right thing. However, beware next general election because IDS has already sided with those who would like to see state pension to non-doms frozen if not eventually stopped. Perhaps our biggest enemy on such things is UK politicians, across just about every party at that :-(

Well, I'm sure there must be folk out there double-claiming - I'm also sure I'm not one of them.

I never get anything off anybody.

As I've said before, I don't know how the French system works - so, I'm assuming in some respects it's like in the UK. If you have children, then most rights are (more or less) instant and automatic in that they are well known.

Anyone else I really don't know. I don't know how long you have to be in the French system to claim from it or how much you have to pay in.

I know Sarah gave some good links on the AE thread relating to topping up of benefits within the French system, but that's about all I know.

I've also just realised that you can top up your NI contributions in the UK voluntarily, but don't know if this applies to non-UK residents. So I've asked them. This time in writing.

Let's see if they get back to me on this one.

That is about it. They gave you what seems like the right info on pensions. Mind you, so-called full state pension is insulting, so do not even worry. I have the basic pension, one of the lowest among the 27 EU member states.

As for the rest, if one is working, earning and income and contributing to social security and taxes here, as be both do, and have children, as we also have (pension plus children, I am a 'restarter') who are receiving different kinds of benefit and educational support, then the UK is out of the equation. Anybody found claiming both is in dire trouble and I am not sure which one of the UK or France I would prefer to be confronted with in that situation. In theory, with cooperation between governmental databases it should no longer be possible. With all bank transactions between countries and of people with non-domiciled status having bank accounts accessible to tax authorities since Sunday, we have to watch our toes and fingers don't cross the line and the likelihood of getting caught seems to be getting higher by the new law. That, not aimed at you Karen, is for all to share.

It's based on the last 2 years UK contributions. So if you are in France and contributing to the UK system, then you should, in theory, be able to make a claim. Of course, I don't know how it would conflict with French benefits if you were claiming them.

A little different though to what I was told both prior to leaving the UK and after I left - that I would have to make a higher NI contribution and it would only make sure I had full pension entitlement and nothing else would be allowable once I'd moved.

Bravo and thanks. Useful for those who need to know and also whilst of no practical use to those of us who are out of the UK system, word we can pass on at least.

To update you

They DID phone me back.

Employment Support Allowance is one of the benefits you can start when you move abroad.

Shame I was told the opposite - and a shame that a lot of the websites indicate the same.

It is contribution based and I can't give anything other than the broad information but there it is, it is available.

In a nutshell, exactly.

To be honest I think the UK government websites are purposefully misleading - that's not to say you aren't correct but they do seem to be being a little conservative with the facts in several aspects.

Oh, it's politics - we should challenge everything, shouldn't we?

We were working when we came, both self-employed, so became AEs immediately. So we paid here only as of arrival. After the 2004 regulation was resolved I tried again but that was that because we were already benefactors of the French payments. Nonetheless it was and remains as clear as mud who and how people are entitled to what.

Well, this thread is getting quite interesting, isn't it?

I think this accounts for the reason I was hung up on and then told the department only dealt with pensions - until I asked for the specific department!

Seriously, I knew when I phoned that there was something I could have claimed just because of their attitude. When I'd contacted them in the past to ask, and been told, no, you need to make the claim before you leave the UK (I was also told this in the UK before I left) then I said, okay, and that was it.

They were going to do the same yesterday until I pointed out that bit on the website then everyone got flustered and started to say yes, some benefits you could claim after you left but it depended on which country you'd moved to. France, unfortunately for them, was a bit too close to hang a ? over!

Whatever is said in any information on any site, I nonetheless have the letter we got in 2009 telling me child benefit had ended in the UK. We have received it at a higher rate here since. I am sometimes quite astonished that there is such a variation because what it means is that in the final analysis nobody actually knows what the regulations are including those who employed to implement them.

Could I still claim pension credit under the principle of exportability ?

But bear in mind, if you enter the system here and get payments, if they are higher than in the UK like our child benefits from CAF then the UK does not pay in order to avoid double payment and because the inter-country agreement is that the higher payment should be accepted or a top up to the lower payment. The UK is lower than France, if a somewhat different system, as we find so that there is no way I could claim despite being in receipt of state pension. It is probably deliberately made complicated in order to put people off claiming from abroad across all countries. I am just happy we can and do here.

Karen, if they give you any grief, draw their attention to the Judgment link I gave you earlier.

There's no doubt now Iain Duncan Smith has ordered his officials to resist claims which might be affected by the Judgment, but the law is against him. Sadly the whole thing has been made very 'political' with IDS trying to improve his street cred as a Eurosceptic.

One of the other references we found was:

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has produced a detailed document and in it says:

2.7. Waiving of residence rules (export of benefits)

Another major principle of the coordination, the export of benefits, is provided for in Article 7, “Waiving of residence rules”, of the new Regulation. This principle provides that cash benefits payable under the legislation of one or more Member States or under the Regulation shall not be subject to any reduction, amendment, suspension, withdrawal or confiscation on account of the fact that the beneficiary or the members of their family status family reside in a Member State other than that in which the institution responsible for providing benefits is situated. The major difference of the Regulation (EEC) No 1408/71 from previous legislation is that it is applicable to all cash benefits and not only pensions.

When the July 2011 Judgment was delivered IDS said he was 'furious' at the EU rules being made. In fact the Judgment came from a referral by a UK Court, and the Court of Justice merely reminded the UK Government of its legal obligations under Treaties signed by different Prime Ministers in different Governments, and voted through by Parliament.

Thanks Roger.

I've seen mention of the Exportability team mentioned on the multiple sclerosis forums yesterday. I just hit on thread in my search. Apparently the exportibility team will fight to near death not to actually export any benefits so your link is extremely interesting to hear of!

Yes, I think paperwork is the way to go rather than the phone. And to expect everything to be challenged.

It was not meant as anything personal, David. It was just that I think another cutback was sold to the public as valid because they 'used' the immigration theme. Turns out the people they harmed most were the Brits who had paid taxes.

Didn't see anything about it at all. I fully explained my circumstances to the UK authorities and was careful to stop claiming it when my income went up one year, then I reclaimed it the next year when it dropped below the threshold. I am certainly not one for milking the system and in fact my family never used the NHS for about 25 years, preferring to go private. Just the same for the education of my sons who were entitled to free state education but got private education. Back in the "good" old days I was paying more than 6 figures a year income tax as well so I've done my bit! Just paid a huge inheritance tax bill as well, thanks to Clegg. What I'm getting back is a pittance.

I was an expat in Beziers, being paid from UK in GBP and paying NI at 10% or whatever it is. When I left the company (after two years) I had no medical cover or employment benefit (we stayed in Beziers because of son at school) and I was entitled to diddly squat. Boy was I hacked off!