Bereavement Grants in France
Wednesday 03 August 2016
The social security system in France provides for a capital sum to be paid to the dependants of a deceased business owner or employee in France.Business owners and salaried employees in France may well be liable for substantial social security contributions, but with that obligation also comes an entitlement to a range of benefits and services, most notably health cover and a retirement pension.
Amongst the remaining benefits is a capital sum that is paid in the event of their death, called capital décès.
The grant is ordinarily payable to the surviving spouse/civil partner, in the absence of which dependant children have an entitlement.
It is not taken into account for the purposes of inheritance tax liability, and neither is it subject to social charges or income tax.
The amount of the grant and the terms on which it is paid varies as between current and retired business owners and business activity.
i. Current Business Owners
In relation to business owners the sum payable depends upon the nature of the business activity that was undertaken by the deceased.
In the case of those in a trade or commercial activity (artisans, commerçants), the sum payable is 20% of the plafond annuel de la Sécurité sociale, which in 2016 equates to €7,723.
In addition to this sum, orphaned children under the age of 16 years (or 20 years if student) or a disabled child of any age in receipt of social assistance, is entitled to a grant of €1,930 (5% of the plafond annuel de la Sécurité sociale).
For those in one of the professions libérales the rules differ by the nature of activity. In some cases the level of the grant is proportional to the level of the contributions or family circumstances, whilst in other cases it is a fixed sum.
In the case of those professions libérales affiliated to the principal insurer CIPAV there are three sums - €15,780, €47,340 and €79,900 - depending on the class of cover (contribution level) they have chosen. The grant is significantly lower if the deceased is over 65 years of age, by a minimum of 52%, a reduction which increases with age.
ii. Retired Business Owners
In the case of a retired business owner the level of the grant is 8% of the plafond annuel de la Sécurité sociale, which in 2016 is €3,089.
In relation to artisans and commerçants the grant is payable on condition that the deceased paid a minimum of 20 years social security contributions, and that their trade or commercial activity was the last business activity undertaken.
Once again, there are separate rules for those in one of the professions libérales which vary by fund, but the rule on the 20 year contribution record is one that does not apply.
In relation to CIPAV and many other professions libérales the same entitlement applies, whether or not the deceased is retired or still in business.
iii. Salaried Employees
Prior to 2015 the level of the bereavement grant was based on the level of the salary, up to a maximum of €9,654.
A change in the law now makes the grant a fixed sum of €3,404, linked to inflation.
The grant is not distributed automatically; it is necessary for the beneficiary to make an application, which must be made within two years of the death of the deceased.
It is rarely an easy or short process, due to the substantial administrative shortcomings of the principal insurance funds for the self-employed, the Régime Social des Indépendants (RSI) and Caisse Interprofessionnelle de Prévoyance et Assurance Vieillesse (CIPAV).
Beneficiaries of former salaried employees make their claim to their local CPAM.
The widow of the deceased is also entitled to a pension, the level of which depends on the contribution record of the deceased, family circumstances and rules of the pension fund, which will be the subject of a future Newsletter article.
This article was featured in our Newsletter dated 03/08/2016