Qualifying for French Disability Benefits

Find out who qualifies for disability benefits in France, called Allocation aux adultes handicapes (AAH), and how a legal French resident can apply for assessment and financial aid from CAF (Caisse d'Allocations Familiales)...

If you are living in France with a disability you may be eligible for a disability allowance that guarantees a minimum income. If you are already receiving compensation due to a work accident, an old age benefit or invalidity pension, you are not eligible. Certain conditions must be met in order to receive the benefits, known as AAH (Allocation Aux Adultes Handicapés).

Eligibility: Residency

To benefit from disability benefits you must live in France full time and be either:

  • French
  • An EU citizen or the family member (spouse/child) of an EU citizen
  • A foreign national, holding a valid residency permit or receipt of application for renewal of a residency permit

Age

You must also meet age requirements and be:

  • Over 20 years old, or
  • Over 16 years old if you are not also considered a dependent in calculating family benefits

AAH is paid to those up to 60 years of age if incapacity is determined to be at least 50 percent. At 60 years of age, you will be switched to incapacity pension benefit (régime de retraite pour inaptitude). If you are at least 80 percent incapacitated you may receive a reduced monthly allowance after the age of 60.

Incapacity

IF you are applying for AAH you must meet conditions of incapacity to qualify and must be:

  • At least 80 percent incapacitated
  • Or if incapacity is determined to be between 50 and 79 percent, be unable to pursue a professional activity and not have been employed for at least one year before the date of application.

Your level of disability is assessed and determined by the Commission on the Rights and Autonomy of Handicapped Persons (Commission des droits et de l'autonomie des personnes handicapées, CDAPH) using a standard guide. The Commission also determines:

  • Your right to, and duration of, the payment of the benefit
  • The allocation of an "invalid" card (Carte d'invalidité)
  • Eligibility for admission to a specialised centre or a work centre for disabled persons - MAS (Maison d’Accueil Spécialisée) or ESAT (Etablissement ou Service d'Aide par le Travail)
  • The recognition of a disabled worker
  • The availability of free pension contributions for the carer of the person with disabilities

Financial resources

Your financial resources, including home value, are taken into consideration when calculating eligibility for AAH. Net income, plus or minus certain deductions and expenses, is also considered in calculating eligibility.

In order to be eligible for benefits, your annual income must not exceed a certain fixed amount, which depends on whether you are single, live in a couple or have children.

Resources taken into account in assessing net income:

  • All taxable income earned in France
  • Income earned outside France
  • Allowances for sickness, maternity, work injury and illness
  • Professional, commercial, manual or agricultural activities
  • Pensions, some annuities and remuneration to directors and shareholders of some companies
  • Farmers benefits

In calculating net income, certain rebates and "neutralisations" are made. For example, only a certain percentage of income from ordinary work is included, calculated on a graduated scale.

Not taken into consideration in the calculation of income is:

  • Survival rent (rente survie) or disability savings (épargne handicap)
  • Family caregiver wages paid to a spouse, partner or PACS partner as long as the wages meet the conditions for granting aid (prestation de compensation du handicap/PCH)
  • Incomes received (or to be received) via Insertion-Revenu Minimum d'Activité (CI-RMA)

In the event of unemployment with no replacement income, beneficiaries of AAH can apply to receive increased payments. Eligibility for the payments begins at the beginning of the following calendar month. When employment is obtained again, benefits will end at the end of the month prior to the beginning of work.

Benefits and Supplements

Recipients will receive the maximum amount if income is under the fixed income limit (barème). If income is more than the limit, the benefit will be reduced. If a pension or annuity is also received, the difference between the amount of that income and the maximum benefit allowed will be paid.

Supplements

Two supplements to the AAH exist for the disabled who meet certain conditions. The first is paid to those who choose to live in independent accommodation in order to help them to pay for the extra expenses of adapting their home.

This benefit is paid monthly if you:

  • Have at least 80 percent disability
  • Receive the full AAH allowance
  • Do not engage in professional activities (is not employed)
  • Have independent housing, for which you receive housing assistance (you live in your own home, or rent, or live for free in private accommodation)
  • Live in France

The other supplement is paid to compensate for the absence of income for those unable to work.

This is paid if you:

  • Are recognised as having a capacity to work of less than five percent
  • Have at least 80 percent disability
  • Receive the full AAH allowance
  • Have independent accommodation
  • Have received no income from work for more than a year and are not about to start a job

Note: Recipients who meet the conditions for both supplements must choose one of them. It is not possible to receive both.

If you are hospitalised or admitted into MAS or ESAT accommodation, benefits are suspended.

How to File for Benefits

Request an application form for the AAH at a local CAF (Caisse d'Allocations Familiales) office or Departmental Office for Handicapped Persons (Maison départementale des personnes handicapées, MDPH). The allowance, if the applicant is eligible, will start from the month that follows application.

Other aspects of receiving AAH

Recipients of AAH also have rights to maternity allowances if required and are exempt from the local taxes (taxe d’habitation). Those receiving the AAH and other extra allowances are exempt from income tax.

The employers of disabled workers receiving benefits who are hired under a CIRMA or CAV work contracts receive monthly assistance from the government. The amount of this assistance will be deducted from the employee's AAH.