Help with RSA

We are in desperate need of some advice. Following a truly dreadful year we are now in a position whereby we need some sort of help financially from the state. We have spent the past months trying to get our various applications sorted out. RSI say that my OH is retired but have not processed his payments. RSA have said that our application will have to go before the Consil Generale because we are foreigners (although OH has been resident in France for 23 years and paid into the system for the entire period) and this morning told us to go back to the UK! Cannot sell the house because they are building LGV line 200 metres away and the commune who said that they wanted to buy the business premises have just pulled out after two years of faffing around (is now on the open market but not much hope of selling in this climate).

We really do not know who to turn to for help, the only other advice RSA gave was to declare bankruptcy - which is ridiculous as we have no debts other than the electricity bill and this course will not provide us with an income. Any help with someone to contact would be much appreciated.

Great to hear but its so sad that they have to make it so difficult ,Anyway onwards and upwards good luck

At last we have sorted out RSA (and received a back payment). Only RSI to go - at least the pressure is off now. Thank you all so much for your support and advice. :)

Glad you are making some progress Bernadette.

Latest update. We are still having problems with the powers that be. They sent us to the Salvation Army for a food parcel because we were ringing all the time - The compulsory box on the form was not ticked at our end but was on the facsimile at the SA when we got there. Another ruse to get us knocked off the list I think.

For some advice I wrote to the EU legal help service and this is the reply :-

'Clearly there is some maladministration in your case, this for two reasons:

First, it is totally abnormal, if the information is that your husband qualifies for a pension, that he should wait so long to start earning his pension. Maybe there are reasons after all why the pension cannot start to be paid immediately, but then surely he should be informed why and possibly be put in a position to remedy (e.g. if previous work record in the UK or in another European country needs to be taken into account for the opening of pension rights, as provided by EU law - Regulation (EC) 883/2004.

Secondly, given that your husband and you have been living (and working, but that is not a condition in itself) in France for so many years, you have acquired a permanent right of residence there. Consequently, your right to stay is not subject anymore to the condition of working or otherwise have sufficient resources, and you are entitled to full equal treatment with French nationals within the cope of EU law - that includes social welfare. Therefore, if you meet the conditions set in French law for qualifying for social welfare benefits based on your residence, it is abusive to question that you actually meet the conditions of residence. Ref.: Directive (EC) 2004/38.'

They also gave us a link to http:// I do hope that it might be useful to others, they seem to deal with every thing from Professional qualifications not being recognised to benefit claims (with help for business as well).

Forwards and onwards, we have been promised a response by the end of the month by Assistance Social - didn't say which month though............

Pole Emploi are always doing this - have wanted to scream at various times and considered going to "defenseur des droits" more than once - if I had the time I would do it, but I am so busy trying to get myself a job with no help whatsoever from the Pole fact they actually get in the way of all my efforts by continually sending me useless emails and striking me off the list every time I need a day off to deal with being half handicapped. There are no polite words for these people. They are inhuman and they are exactly the same in the UK. ATOS is , after all, a French company.

Re; being told you must go bankrupt, that seems a lie to me, - RSA is available to people in business as it it for supporting people on a low income, it is NOT unemployment benefit, Unemployment benefit is called "chomage - and the command to pay it comes from the POLE EMPLOI, and that's where, if you are unemployed, you will need to go bankrupt to prove you are not "working". You need to make your mind up about where you will be better off. I assume if you've had a reasonable income and paid cotisations for so long, you will definitely be better off long term, claiming the up to 6000 euros a month unemployment benefit from the Pole Emploi, than you will getting 500 euros a month as a couple receiving RSA and no unemployment benefit. (us - we paid all the cotisations for 3 years, but received no unemployment benefits. I have no idea why, probably because we are too tired to chase it up)

Sometimes these things are simply confusing, but sometimes they are said in error, or just as a lie to hear "you need a carte de sejour", or "this is how we do things in France", whenever someone is trying to con money out of you for nothing or get out of doing something for you that you have a right to, that they don't want to do for you.

good luck, you are now in the same boat as millions of us and we should carry on supporting each other, because very few others will help us.

PS assistante socials are usually great, but a word of caution, they end a meeting promising to do something for you, and then they do it, but don't tell you about it unless you make another appointment to see them. They have a tendancy to not contact you and then claim that you havn't been in touch for too long. Keep making appointments.

I wouldn’t really get angry Kate, that might get you nowhere but pretend to. Just get really assertive and take no nonsense. A bit of arm waving can be useful. I’ve observed French people playing this game in all sorts of places, the supermarket, the insurance brokers, the tax office. After the blow up phase they all end up the best of friends but it seems the blow up phase is required to establish mutual respect. In fact, a huissier we had checking our bornage actually told us that this was how it worked.

Hi John

When you say "blow them out of it" - I assume you mean get angry with them?

Kate the trick here is to watch what the French do. In any interaction with french bureaucracy it becomes is a fencing match. Initially they treat you with contempt, one then needs respond with excessive politeness to establish one isn't a charlatan. When they subsequently start to huff and puff one needs to be a appear disappointed. Then when they finally start shrugging their shoulders and trying to get rid of you because of your previous reasonable behaviour you can blow them out of it. Not only will they respect you for this but they'll become your best friend. I first tried this in 1981 with a post mistress and it worked. I last tried it with my bank last week, it worked. Wimps do not do well in France.

You're right to persist Bernadette.

I have found that even in the most frustratingly difficult situations with our local tax office, people have softened their approach to me once they realised I wasn't going to take no for an answer (I once went back after being rebuffed 3 times armed with more information before I got heard) and that they needed to take me seriously.

However, although I understand your frustration with the lack of help you've received so far, the key I've found is also to keep your cool and be polite and even smiley if at all possible - even in the face of rudeness and unfairness. If you treat them without respect then they will give you none.

However difficult, if you can smile and plead and show gratitude for any scrap of helpful behaviour, they should eventually see you as a human being and not a nuisance and it's amazing how they can turn from being hard-faced jobsworths to warm, helpful people, going the extra mile to help you.

I try to imagine it from their point of view - they get people moaning at them all day and it's got to be wearing. They'll spend more time with people who are pleasant to be with. If you can reach out to the person beyond the behaviour, it does help.

Good luck & by all means hound them but stay smiley, cool and calm (at least on the outside) on your quest and don't give up...

Good .. I'm in a mess too .. and actually after 22 years want to move back to the UK although it feels like a foreign country, but what everyone says to you makes sense . Keep blasting away and you probably will get what you need > good luck !

Unfortunately it was Assistante Social who told us to go back to the UK. First went to the and filled in all of the forms at the beginning of March. They sent them on to the Consil Generale on May 14th! Have been told today that the Consil will look at them at the end of the month.

We are with Pole Emploi, who are a 45 minute drive away or about three days by public transport. They keep knocking the OH off the list for spurious reasons, once for failing to attend an interview with them - he had attended but they failed to recognise the fact!

Downright stubbornness has now set in - I will hound them (each department) at least once a day until we get somewhere. Am busy downloading all of the rules and EU documents to 'help' the buggers do their jobs.

In the meantime, thank you everyone for the advice, it has all been really useful and has picked me up out of the doldrums. I think that there might be light at the end of the tunnel.

Hello there

I work as a relocation assistant/translator and have helped many clients get benefits - and had to seek help myself after a separation

If you are a UK citizen you are entitled to benefits in France - ignore any comments about going back to the UK

First stop would be make an appointment with the Assistante Sociale who is based in your local Conseil Generale and may well visit your local Mairie to meet with you

The benefit you can apply for (as you say) is the RSA although if either of you have just finished a salaried position you could apply for chomage (Jobseekers Allowance based on your earnings whilst employed) The quickest way to get this is to sign on at your Pole Emploi (if you are under retirement age). By signing on each month your RSA payment is maintained until you find work/other solution. You can also apply for free bus and train passes to save on petrol

The moment you get RSA you can apply for free healthcare which is called CMU Complementaire and means that you will not longer need to pay for a top up mutuel. This needs to be applied for/renewed annually

The moment you get the CMU Mutuelle you can apply to EDF for a reduction in your electricity bills which is called the Tariff Premier Necessite.

You can also apply (via the Assistant Sociale) for help towards heating costs - a fund called the Fonds Europeen Solidarité which may get you an annual payment of around 200 towards either elec/gas or wood. This needs to be applied for annually

If I think of anything else I will let you know

In the meantime Courage!

I also claim RSA and CMU we dont have to have a rdv just sign a letter every couple of months to say "No change in circumstances" How ever the first time i applied over 8 years ago they said "Why do you think you are Eligible for any financial help and to go back to the uk

This time i went to the Assistant sociale for MSA and they said Why didnt i claim this years ago !!!!!!!!

I thought "You have known for the past 10 years what my income was why didnt you tell me i could claim .They new we where having difficulty paying the huge social charges

So its very much a fight on all levels but dont give up

Which association was you paying into the system with was it MSA


Terrible situation to be in, I know it's not easy...

About ten years ago I had also went through a difficult time and I had to ask for financial help from the government, I'm a British citizen, I've lived here for 18 years now and my case never went before the Conseil Generale. Some organisations make it difficult, I'd say your best bet is to go and see the Assistante Sociale that works in your commune, they'll help you with your paper work and getting through the whole process.

Take care

Sorry to hear your situation, all demands for rsi do have to go before the conseil general if you live in France for any nationality including the French, because you are not citoyen Française , even if you have lived here all your life and payed all your taxes, you are still classed as Etranger doesn't make any difference.

. I have no knowledge of retirement so I can't advise

. Rsa is like income support if you are working they will top up to the minimum, and if you are not working and not looking for work then you won't get it

. go to your centre d'action social (cas) they will advise, also you should have a rdv with them every 6 months to see what you can do to improve you income and find work

. We closed our business in 2010 (we did not have to file for bankruptcy) we have received Rsa 18 months before we closed then, we had to register with the pole emploi, every month you have to sign on online, and also have a rdv every month, if we didn't register and go, they inform the conseil general and we lose the Rsa.

. 2 1/2 years later we are both still looking for work but we do get Rsa and Cmu (free heathcare) but is still difficult.

Hope this helps

Hi Bernadette,

I'm sorry to hear you're having a tough time. You could also try contacting Olivier at From what I've heard he is a master at getting through and getting things done when all else has failed.

Good luck


Thank you for the contacts, will try those today.

We have been to the local Marie (small commune, sent us elsewhere - yesterday they sent us back to our own Marie............. ever decreasing circles with no answers). Still forwards and onwards.

Hi Bernadette

May be worth contacting Elizabeth Finn Care - see this link -

they may be able to help you with your dealings with RSI...and also advise on what benefits may be available to you. Have you spoken to your mairie? They will also have an advisor who will let you know what local help you can get.