Martin Lewis's Advice on Topping Up Pensions

Ive been receiving a small French pension for 3 years through Carsat and the qualifying years(but not the money) from my UK National Insurance contributions were added to those of the French ones to give me the 166 trimestres needed .
I,m now about to apply for the UK part of the pension through Carsat and as I have added further voluntary contributions via HMRC since making the original declaration through Carsat I was slightly worried this might be disregarded(ie overlap years)
However my ex husband has now received the UK part of his pension and this does not seem to be a factor and he is paid seperately from UK everymonth(took 10months however!)

This interests me greatly.

I am still waiting for my French pension to be paid, having applied over 18 months ago for a commencement on my 62nd birthday just over a year ago. Despite nagging I’m still being told that it’s being processed & the current delay is now 3,5 months (it was more…).

I worked full time (self employed) in France for 15 years, before taking my retirement.

I believe that the delay is due to my having told them all about my “carrière longue” - I sent a NI contributions list going back to 1976!

I don’t understand your statement that the French system has taken your UK payments into account but that it hasn’t effected the money you get. 166 trimestres would give you a full French pension, surely?

I vaguely remember (it was 20 years ago :roll_eyes:) being asked how many trimestres I had in total by the French people, and I vaguely remember being surprised that I had so many and kept quiet because I thought the UK must have made a mistake but the thing which amazed me more than anything was the massive increase in my French pension because I agreed to avoid claiming it for 6 months for a year or so. Encore, j’ai dit rien. :wink: :rofl:

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I have put off my french pension for a year and its increase is 3 fold what I would have got if I had taken it now! At least the french give widows/owers half of what their husbands/wives have accumulated if they are 56 or over and were self employed too, the UK offered me just a few pence per week for OH’s contributions over many years of being self emplyed.

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I cannot remember the full details now as I didnt deal personally when applying for my French pension, it was done via a very competent lady who worked for my french accountants.
What I do know is that I had 39 trimestres here and required 40 ( I think) to qualify for a monthly French pension. The required trimestres were transferred from my UK years which still left me with sufficient UK qualifying years to claim a full UK pension.
As france was the last place I worked it is my competent state and therefore even though I now receive my full UK state retirement pension and French pension I cannot apply for an S1. On the other hand my wife who has lived with me in France for the last 15 years has been granted her S1 and full uk state pension as she has not worked in France.
I am hopeful that my wife’s S1 will at least provide a 50% relief on social contributions due on foreign rental income when submitting our 2022 tax return here in France.

I have to apply via Carsat for my french pension as well as the other Agirc-arcco but the UK side is a totally seperate entity and not included in my french contributions (trimestres) at all but as France is my competant state and last place I worked, I get to continue with my all my rights and health cover, no UK S1 for me.

The 166 trimestres would only give me the full French pension I was entitled to ,pro rata to what I have paid in.
The 166 trimestres were obtained because I was able to bring over the 24 qualifying years from the UK to add to the approx 19 years I did here under the EU aggregation of pensions scheme(in my case Carsat Pole International).I obtained this at 63 yrs
This only triggered the French pension payment which is based on what you have earned in France(in my case for various reasons it is quite a small amount but it does cover my healthcare)
If I had not obtained all the trimestres needed from France and UK(aggregated)I would have had to wait until 67 years to claim a similar amount .The aggregation scheme has just enabled me to claim earlier.
In calculating my qualifying years there were some years when I worked in both UK and France and ended up with2 french trimestres and a full UK year.Any overlap years are discounted.You can only entitled to one qualifying year per year.
As I claimed through Carsat for my French pension I will go through them for my UK one(although if I had had to wait until 67 for the French one I would have claimed the French and Uk one seperately)
So the French did’t take my UK payments into account ,only the qualifying years and now I will soon be claiming my UK pension ,although it will be processed by Carsat the payments will be made directly from the UK according to what I paid there.(Carsat will probably adjust my French pension downwards slightly as part of it is made up to a minimum contributif and I will no longer be eligable due to extra payment from UK)
As I have paid in extra years into my UK pension since receiving the French one I understand that I will receive what I paid in from UK even though a few years overlap they will not be discounted

Thanks for your comprehensive reply.

Your situation is/was very similar to mine. However, at no point have I been told that my UK contributions would be needed to trigger my French pension at age 62. I have a summary that shows me what they will pay me in return for the 50 or so trimestres that I have paid to France.

Like I said.

I wouldn’t have bothered about sending them all the info about my UK career, but there was an implication from various sources that it might get me some kind of better deal, so I did so.

P.S. My wife (older than me) waited until her UK pension was due before claiming her French one at the same time. Her French one ended up being nearly double what the forecast said (it’s still peanuts, but…). Carsat were supposed to trigger her UK one but we got fed up waiting & talked to the UK pension people & it got sorted in double quick time.

Why are pensions so complicated, wherever…?

EDIT: Almost as soon as I posted this reply I got a 'phone call from Assurance Retraite! Despite having sent them everything they wanted back in September 2021, & them acknowledging that my dossier was complete, they suddenly needed my Titre de Sejour :roll_eyes:

They told be to do it straight away so that they could action my backdated payments immediately. We will see…

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Throwing this into the wilds here…

I worked in the the Uk for +/- 3 -4 years do you think I could buy a few years in the UK pension system to lower my retirement date here in France?
I’m not optimistic but hey, maybe…?

Wondering do new years in the UK even receive recognition still in the EU, I thought not. But old years…interesting. Unfortunately I already worked too many years and was told no benefit in buying missing ones. But maybe if you’re quick in your case…

No problem. Definitely give them a call. I can’t remember exactly what I paid but it was something like £1500 for the 10 years based on self-employed class 2 contributions. Having called the line several times, everyone I spoke to was really friendly, with the exception of one miserable lady who I guess was having a bad day. It was all sorted very promptly.

We will be doing this process next week. I have 34 years UK full NI contributions and my wife has 32 years - we then moved to France and registered as AE. It will be interesting to see how this works out.

The Class 2 could be an interesting option.

If it helps, I reached retirement age 2 years ago.

I got an estimate from the Pension Forecast Dept ( all very quick )

I paid for 4 years top up. It cost me about £2000, and has a payback period of 4 years.

So in 2 years time will be in profit.

Well worth looking into

You’d have to buy 6 or 7 as anything under 10 years doesn’t get you a pension- just a warm fuzzy feeling of having contributed to the government’s slush fund. And then you’d get a small pension or it could translate to trimestres here. But not much time left to sort it out.

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A useful reminder to all not to ‘overpay’ i.e. only pay for the years needed - which is now 35.

Apparently if anyone did 30 years before April 5 2016, then the number is 30 years for full state pension not 35.

Though why it was ever 30 years is beyond my understanding given the funding problem for pensions was visible at the time they lowered it to 30.

Current minimum age for a standard French pension is 62. How would buying more UK years effect that?

The reason for the extension of the deadline has been caused by a very large number of people wanting to understand if they should pay or not pay. The telephone lines are swamped and very few people are getting through. Apparently HMRC (who you pay) have a huge backlog of unopened envelopes. In addition the spam attack on the Post in the UK continues to cause problems.
My wife is attempting to understand what she could or might pay. Given advice in December by the Pension service to fill out Form CF83. This was sent by post with tracking on 16th January. It is stuck in the West Midlands sorting office for the last four weeks.
A second form was dispatched with tracking 4 weeks ago and this is also in Limbo.
We are considering DHL for the next envelope!
If this is something of interest to you I suggest you act sooner than later.

Ah, thanks, that explains it for me - I was looking for my 2016 letter which has the magic figure of my new state pension starting amount (i was contracted out) - key to knowing how much more to pay, and can’t find it. So I’ve been calling a few times, one selects the options and it just disconnects.

My HMRC account does say one more year needed - can I trust it though, I wanted the letter!

I’ll try again next year…

I don’t think that is true, I stopped working full time in 2010 when one did only need 30 years (which I had). Had I been 60 at the time I would have got full pension, but they changed the numbers and retirement age so that no longer applied to anyone who had yet to reach retirement age. I’ve certainly had to top-up to 35 to get my full pension (which I might receive shortly - except they are now run ing 23 weeks late!)

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