Not everyone is aware that people aged 60 living in France and who have a disability or need assistance due to reduced mobility, may be entitled to receive financial assistance under the French APA scheme.

The APA (L'Allocation personnalisée à l'autonomie- Personal autonomy allowance) is supported by the French Government and administered via the conseil départemental. The purpose of the APA scheme is to allow qualifying recipients to continue living in their home.

In summary, the purpose of the APA is to provide assistance to people aged 60 and over, who need help with the essential activities of daily living. For example, support with getting in/out of bed, help with washing and dressing or perhaps assistance with preparing and cooking meals. Their remit also covers those persons who need daily monitoring visits to ensure they are not experiencing any difficulties.

Examples of what the APA will pay for:

Home help

Equipment such as the installation of personal alarms to summon help

Supplies for hygiene

Meal deliveries

Cost of carrying out essential changes to the home such as grab handles in bathroom

Respite care

Transportation expenses

It will also part pay for approved nursing homes (accommodation facility for dependent elderly people).

Perhaps it is important to note at this point that in the event the conseil départemental is informed an applicant is now able to live independent of assistance, the département cannot seek reimbursement of any the monies previously paid to the beneficiary. It is also important to note that monies paid under the APA scheme are not subject to any form of reclaim from a person’s estate once paid.

Like all schemes, there are qualification requirements. To qualify under the APA scheme, the claimant must be:

  • Aged 60 or over,
  • Resident (covered by the French Health scheme)
  • Suffering from reduced mobility as evaluated under the GIR 1, 2, 3 or 4 by a team of professionals.

What is the GIR?

GIR (Groupe Iso-Ressources) is a classification used to measure the degree of loss of autonomy of the person using  a national standard evaluation grid (AGGIR) to ensure consistency across the country.

Another acronym  one will come across is AGGIR. This is the name given to the whole process of which the GIR forms part of it.  AGGIR (Autonomy Gérontologique Groupe Iso-Resources) is a countrywide system/scheme used to assess the degree of independence/loss of self-sufficiency of people, mainly elderly, in France.


As previously stated, to qualify under the scheme, a claimant must be:

  • Aged 60 or over,
  • Resident (covered by the French Health scheme)
  • Suffering from reduced mobility as evaluated under the GIR 1, 2, 3 or 4 by a team of professionals.

Persons satisfying the GIR 1 to 4 criteria are eligible to receive monies from the APA if their income is less than €2945 per month (May 2016). Monies paid out are ‘means tested’ and based upon income. The lower your income, the more money you receive. Qualifying people may also benefit from a home help service from the municipalité/commueor their ‘Mutuelle Santé’.

It should be noted that whilst persons whose mobility is assessed as falling within GIR categories GIR 5 or 6 may still be eligible for assistance. Whilst under the APA scheme they are considered basically independent and thus do not qualify for grants from APA, they may be eligible for assistance from their mutuelle or their commune. Both these organisations provide some degree of assistance to the elderly who do not meet the GIR criteria 1 to 4.

Note: For those who live in either a residence-autonomy (former sheltered housing), or with their family in a small attached accommodation must apply under the home APA scheme. Note: The calculation of the APA grant differs for those living at home as opposed to those who are in residential homes.

If you benefit from the APA at home and are planning to move into a nursing home (accommodation facility for elderly dependents), the grant will change once you have moved into the nursing home (maison de retraité).

How to apply for APA home?

The home APA application is managed by the conseil départemental. Applications can be made direct or via your local municipality. In the Hérault, the contact details of the consul départemental are as follows:

Address: Conseil départemental, Hôtel du département, 1000, rue d'Alcool, 34087 Montpellier Cedex 4

Téléphone: +33 4 67 67 67 67   Fax: +33 4 67 67 81 66.

Website:  le site internet du Conseil départemental - Hérault

To access the APA page on their website, click here

Organisations and local associations dedicated to the elderly, the CCAS (communal social action centres), social security institutions, your Mutuelle Company, or home help services, can help you find and complete the application package.

On some municipalities’ websites, the APA application form package is available to download (télécharge). Some farsighted municipalities even allow online application.

The completed application form, together with the requisite supporting documentation, should be posted to the office of the President, Conseil départemental.

Once the application has been received, the conseil départemental medico-social team, or a body mandated by the conseil départemental, willcontact the applicant to arrange a meeting at their home.Relatives of the applicant and a doctor of their choice may be present during the evaluation visit.

The team will look into the overall situation of the individuals, their lifestyle and the amount of involvement by their family, etc. to form an opinion as to whether the person qualifies for support under the APA programme. (The assessment will also take into account the needs of the caregiver).

Assuming the applicant meets one of the GIR criteria levels 1 to 4, an aid plan will be drawn up. The plan will state the GIR level (between 1 & 4) “level of loss of autonomy” and set out the proposed help that will be provided to you under the scheme. For example, the number of hours of home help granted, the number of meals to be brought to the home. It will also set out any contribution from the applicant, if required.

As stated previously, if the applicant is assessed as falling within GIR criteria group 5 or 6, they are not eligible for payments under the APA scheme, but may be eligible for assistance from their mutuelle or their commune.

How is home APA calculated? (Information correct as of May 2016)

The amount paid by the conseil départementalis based on:

  • The financial situation (income) of the applicant:
  • The level of disability
  • The cost of the aid provided in the aid package.

The APA is a universal allowance and is not means tested. However, if the applicant has an income above €800 but less than €2945 per month (May 2016), they are required to pay towards their care on a sliding scale basis.

There is a maximum amount paid out per month under the APA. From 1 March 2016, the maximum amounts of aid plans:

GIR 1: € 1,713.08

GIR 2: € 1,375.54

GIR 3: € 993.88

GIR 4: € 662.95

Once approved, the APA is paid to the applicant one month after the award decision. It can be paid directly to the recipient, chosen home help service or the residential nursing home selected by the applicant.

The French Government website about the APA scheme can be viewed by clicking here.   

Click here for a video (in French) about the APA, with a basic transcript below.

Be helped at home

For Madeleine who has just turned 82, it is becoming increasingly difficult to deal with the daily hardships of life.

Her doctor advised her to seek information from a service supporting older people with a view to obtaining home help.

At the support organisation, she meets Gilles, who presents her with the personal autonomy allowance application file: “the file APA”.

This allowance is restricted to people over 60 who have difficulty in performing basic activities of daily living. It is the conseil départemental who pay the APA, which helps to pay part of Madeleine’s home help costs.

In response to the submission of her application form, an appointment is set. The social worker of the conseil départemental visits her to assess the home situation.

To determine the level of loss of independence of Madeleine, it relies on Aggir process. The AGGIR (Autonomy Gérontologique Groupe Iso-Resources) is a countrywide system used to assess the degree of independence/loss of self-sufficiency of people, mainly elderly, in France.

Madeleine is evaluated as having a loss of mobility GIR level 4 and thus is eligible for the APA.

The APA plan for her proposes to finance 3 meals and 3 hours of home care per week. The amount of money to be provided by the conseil départemental and the amount of participation required from her is also communicated.

Madeleine accepts the proposal. For the home help service, she choses the same home help organisation her friend Jeanne uses, as she is very happy with them.

If she needs an increase in her hours, she can request a reassessment and the team of the conseil départementalwill propose a new aid plan.

On can find all the information on The national portal for the independence of the elderly and support for their relatives is provided by the Ministry of Social Affairs, Health and Women's Rights and the National Solidarity Fund for Autonomy.

Financing the APA Scheme

Since 2002, benefits for the elderly and others requiring care or assistance, have been provided through the APA system (Allocation personnalisée à l'autonomie).

Finance for these benefits originate from local councils and the newly created agency CNSA (Caisse nationale de solidarité pour l'autonomie). The CNSA is not directly financed from the tax system. Its funds come from three main sources:

  • In France, all employees work a day for which they are not paid. The monies that they would have been paid are given to CNSA.
  • Monies from a 0.3 percent tax on employers
  • Monies set aside within the existing healthcare budgeting system to support those requiring assistance. 

Financial Help for Those with Reduced Mobility Living in France

Cancer Support France, (CSF) Languedoc & Aude have complied the attached documents, which they are happy for us to place on the church website.

Cancer Support France – Languedoc is a registered French association. CSF are there to help, by providing linguistic, practical & emotional support in English, for anyone affected by cancer as a patient, family member or carer.

Cancer Support France, (CSF) Languedoc & Aude are affiliated to Cancer Support France. CSF is a national French organisation with groups in many regions around France. A link to their website is available by clicking here

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