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British Pension Forecast

At the end of last month, I called phoned the Overseas Pension Office to request a pension forecast. I spoke to a fairly jolly bloke who was unable to confirm that the gibberish that I felt was my NI number was correct, only to say that his system was not throwing up any errors. So the name, date of birth, and number all seemed good. I was actually rather impressed that I managed to remember it. I haven't needed it in around a quarter of a century, and I don't think I have anything with it noted down.
Thankfully, British National Insurance (Social Security) numbers are in the form AB 12 34 56 C which I found to be more memorable. Don't ask me what my French Sécu number is, there's something like 11 (or 13?) digits of that...

The forecast arrived quickly.

My pension forecast
My pension forecast.

Before I became a Care Assistant (in, what was it, 1998?) I had a couple of years of inactivity. Well, I was working but not being paid anything. A rather unpleasant person enjoying the service of his own private slave, but I did that to hang around so worse things didn't happen to mom. It's complicated, but I think I've dropped enough of a hint that you know not to ask and that I am not up for giving details.
I also spent a year in Somerset (part related to the same situation as above). So that pretty much covers the missing four years.
I came over here when I was 28.

I now have to sit on this paper for a long long time. Apparently I can get my employment history sorted out and up to date...when I'm fifty five.
I dunno, you'd have thought in a case like this they might appreciate being aware of the additional history whenever I can provide the paperwork?

Note, by the way, that this forecast is valid if I am in employment (or make voluntary contributions) for the next 19 years. I have four years more before I'll qualify for anything at all.
It's probably not a surprise that far too many British pensioners are looking at the rapidly rising costs of fuel and electricity and realising that they have to decide between heating and eating.


As far as I'm aware, by the time I reach pension age (which the UK seems to think is also 67), France will calculate how much pension I am entitled to according to my employment history. Then, it will be divided up as to what part France will pay, and when part they'll expect Britain to pay.
I've worked for six years in the UK, and already thirteen in France, and I have a further twenty to go. That will add up to 39 years.
A quick calculation suggests that 84.6% of my allocated pension would be met by France, with 15.4% from Britain.
Assuming, of course, that Britain doesn't pull some crap like "it's less than ten, we're not paying anything" and that they haven't completely buggered up overseas pensions. Given that they're sliding uneasily into the auspices of an autocratic police state, I'm not sure what will happen within the next twenty years.


The CAF responds

I received an email from the CAF. Luckily, sent directly to me rather than a "you have a message, log in to read it" which is annoying.

Anyway, it basically said that they wish to confirm the good reception of my residency permit. It isn't necessary to present myself in person.
However, please note that the current delay in processing demands is eleven weeks. At this time, we are treating demands made on the 25th of October.

And some guff about "I can follow this by logging in and going to the follow-my-demands part of the website", but to be honest I don't care.
They have it, they have confirmed that they have it, they seem to think this is good enough.

Oddly, not a word about why the site was asking me to post it. Maybe that's a "is this person stupid?" test.

Phew. I can breathe a little easier.


I spoke to the visiting social worker (she comes to work once a month for people who need help with stuff) about this, and she said to me that the CAF is currently a complete disaster, and that it's been on the news a lot right now. As I'm only responding to a request to prove my ability to stay here, and I have the documentation, it's not a big deal, I can wait.
But she said to me that she knows one woman who is living on her own with two young children. She made an application for assistance in mid-November. She hopes she'll hear something by early February. Until then, it was the food bank and various support charities keeping her going.
Wow. FFS. You'd have thought they might have implemented some sort of system of prioritisation. I know I have all my paperwork in order, so I don't really give a flying flamingo how long it takes them to get around to rubber-stamping it.
But to leave somebody who actually needs some sort of support waiting in the same queue? My god.

Apparently it's even worse. The website is also partially broken (this has been on the news too). People have been making applications for things, and received blank pages in response. Now it's not possible to make repeated applications for the same thing, but if you make a demand and you get nothing but blank in response, how do you know if it even worked?
That's actually why I don't know if I am going to get anything from them in the next trimester. As I had earned more with the Saturdays and such, I didn't expect to have anything much this time around. But, guess what, I got a blank response.
I went back to the menu to do it all over again, but the prompt was no longer there, so I figured that it had made it to them, even if nothing made it back.

So, I dunno what's going on with the CAF, but it seems like they have far more to worry about than the paperwork of some expat twat. The photo is a legit card, and all of the numbers and stuff are readable so they can check it with the Préfecture.
Honestly, I'd be disappointed if this sort of thing wasn't a simple web search provided to public service employees (give name and card number and we'll say "yes, it's real" or "huh?").


Winter sales?

The winter sales start today. I didn't take the day off, and I still haven't decided whether or not I'll be going to Châteaubriant on Saturday.

At a local clothing store (DistriCenter), I got a... it's more than a jacket but not exactly a coat. My current coat is not in great shape, so I thought this might be useful for using instead.

Then, for ten euros, this.

Science kit
Science kit.

The booklet inside runs to a very well detailed 64 pages in French. I say "in French" as it isn't a dozen experiments repeated in a dozen languages.
There's actually quite a lot of stuff to do. Starting with building your own microscope.

There's also a centrifuge that takes itty-bitty plastic tubes with a pop-top to seal them. Given that it is based upon a little motor running off 3V (two AA cells), it's pretty fast.
So fast, in fact, that trying to take a photo of it results in something rather interesting.#

The camera is running at a shutter speed of 1/4000, ISO 10400, and fixed flash to light the scene. You can clearly see that the centrifuge is spinning so damn fast that it's stretching the very fabric of space and time.
Either that, or it's a freaky quirk of how electronic cameras function, but I prefer to think that the spinning spaghetti is in danger of collapsing into it's own event horizon. ☺

It's been around 32 years since I've been to science class, so I think when I get to "do" this (most likely mid-Spring or early Summer), I'll rather enjoy it even if it's aimed at children.
I always was a bit of a science geek.


Oh my... A German version (no French) with a different front design is on sale on Amazon for fifty euros (ASIN B07D9TNN4H). I paid ten!



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Rick, 12th January 2022, 23:00
Hmm, had a phone call in the evening from the social worker. She tested positive, so has to contact everybody. 
I'll need to stop by the front office tomorrow to ask whether I should work or isolate. Strictly speaking I don't need to as my vaccinations are all up to date, but they might prefer if I stayed away pending a test... 
(that being said, one of the management people was there for two days after Christmas and then off for a while due to testing positive and nobody else panicked over it, they didn't even treat me as a contact case despite, well, being one!) 
J.G.Harston, 16th January 2022, 23:05
Yeah, it's that ten-year minimum that bits you. You have to pay all that in before you can even draw a penny. You'll have to make a judgment as to whether you can afford to make four years' payments voluntarily, as I assume you won't be working in the UK in the next 19 years. 
I'm currently trying to persuade a friend to keep working six more weeks as then she'll have 20 years on her pension and there's a 5% jump if you get past 20.
J.G.Harston, 16th January 2022, 23:14
Some actual numbers: If you pay four years' contributions and leave it at that, you'll get about £40 a week. Four years' NI is about £3 per week Class 2 for living abroad, about £640. If you don't pay that £640 you'll get zero. Might be worth getting an actual quote from UKHMG as that £640 will only get more expensive over the next 19 years. Be warned, the HMRC website is a maze of twisty turney pages....

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