Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

What happened and what is coming ...

First of all, a big THANK YOU to all my readers for sharing my joy and relief over the prospect of early retirement. But we're not there yet! However, it is nice to see the light at the end of the tunnel of my professional career.

Let me tell you what I had to do to get the by now notorious document.

After receiving the letter claiming that I wasn't a member of this TU, I started rounding up all the proof I could to show that 1) I was a member and 2) that I have been working and paying taxes and social security since 1980 - uninterrupted. I put the file together - something the TU normally should have done during the past 4 weeks and sent it off on November 21st as a registered letter. I used the Post's tracking tool to learn that it was delivered on November 24th. 

During the first week of December I received an email from a colleague who's going through the same procedure with his TU's local office in Brussels. He told me that his request had received a 'positive evaluation' and that he would have the required document within the next 48 hours. He advised me to contact my TU's office to find out the status of my file. I did, and ... got yet another cold shower!! The woman on the phone claimed that they had not received my registered letter!! Although I had no paper receipt of the letter's delivery, I decided to play some bluff poker, saying that I had written proof and demanded to talk to a manager. Of course, 'they were (conveniently) in a meeting'. At this point I lost my patience and temper. Not proud to say so, but I demanded to have them call me back before 4 p.m. And then slammed down the phone. 

They called back at 11 a.m. saying that my request had had a 'positive evaluation' (so they apparently had found my letter) and that the necessary documents were being drawn up at that very moment to be send to the local unemployment agency for approval the same day. Yet one more hurdle to take ... But they told me not to worry. I would have my document before the end of 2015. 

By the 16th I guessed it was time to check one more time on the status of my file. The unemployment agency - who I called this time - confirmed the 'positive evaluation' and stated that the document would be sent back to the TU that same day. More waiting ...

From then on, I checked my letter box every day. In vain. On the 28th, I had had enough. Time for another call. To the TU again. The woman in charge of my file wasn't working on Monday but she would call me back the next day. Not having an answer at 11 the following day, I called again. This time the phone was answered by a woman with a Dutch accent. She confirmed that the letter had been sent, but she would send a copy, to make sure that I got it before the 31st. I suggested sending a scan by email. She said she would do so.

It was almost noon when the mail arrived! My friend C. was there when the screen of my PC lit up saying 'new email' and I think I almost strangled him when I hugged him for joy! The next day I had the two letters (written proof) in my letter box: the original and the copy that had been sent by the Dutch woman.

Blood, sweat and tears, the latter first out of frustration and later for joy. 

But this is just the first step towards early retirement. There is still a long way to go, including more red tape and the actual date being sometime well into 2017. 


chm said...

At least now, Martine, you know that the process has begun and you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Now you can prepare yourself to a life of leisure in a future that is not too distant. Good luck!

Bob said...

it seems like the government should have this process down to a science by now, with all the data on computers. In the US, we can apply on line for Social Security and most people I have spoken with say that things went smoothly. It seems like things go off track during the holidays since so many people take leave for the holidays. I try NOT to do anything complicated in December unless I have to. Anyway, it looks like the big, major, first step has been completed. Hopefully the rest will go smoothly for you.

The Beaver said...

Oh My !!!
Didn't realize that there were SO many hurdles to overcome to have what is rightfully yours. Ah la bureaucratie

VirginiaC said...

Blood, sweat and tears is exactly what we go through here in dealing with government offices, so I feel your pain.
Thank goodness you kept on top of things and aided in the smooth last you can see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.
So excitedly happy for you!!
Happy New Year Martine!!

Ken Broadhurst said...

In France, this was easier for me. I moved back here at the age of 54. Around the time of my 60th birthday, the French government sent me a notice that I had the right to draw a retirement pension for the years (1972-82) that I had been employed in Paris.

I decided to wait until age 65 to start drawing the pension, which is very small. And then I found out I had a second (even smaller) retirement pension as well. Applying for both was a breeze. Lucky for me. Having a retirement pension in France means I get free health insurance as well.

And as Bob said, getting U.S. Social Security payments started was easy, even though as an expat I couldn't apply on line. I had to call the U.S. Embassy in Paris, but it was easy and the checks started coming in on time.

So good for you. You will enjoy having your freedom and still having an income starting in 2017, I'm sure. Congratulations and happy 2016. Wishing you patience and bon courage.

Carolyn said...

Martine, thank you! I can't find your email address so I thought I'd use your blog to let you know your card arrived yesterday! We really appreciate it and wish you a happy and healthy 2016 (and your mother too).

My Life in the Charente said...

Wow Martine, this sounds like it is really hard work, thank goodness we did not have these problems in the UK. At least it looks like you are going in the right direction. Good luck Diane

The Beaver said...

Bonjour Martine

Hope all is OK today as far as you are concerned .

ladybird said...

Narimma, I'm fine, thank you for your concern. The whole country is in shock, and life has come to a hold. Working from home tomorrow and relieved that I don't have to go into Brussels for the rest of the week. Martine