This chapter covers what you should know about claiming means-tested social security benefits in Estonia if you are a permanent resident of the Republic of Estonia, or if you reside in Estonia on the basis of a temporary residence permit or a temporary right of residence.
In what situation can I claim?
The means-tested social security benefits for permanent residents of Estonia or foreigners residing in Estonia on the basis of a temporary residence permit are subsistence benefit, unemployment allowance and needs-based family benefit.
They may be claimed by all permanent residents of Estonia or foreigners residing in Estonia on the basis of a temporary residence permit or a temporary residence right.
What conditions do I need to meet?
The following social security benefits may be claimed by permanent residents of Estonia or foreigners residing in Estonia on the basis of a temporary residence permit or a temporary residence right.
Subsistence benefit (toimetulekutoetus)
Subsistence benefit may be claimed by a person living alone or by a family whose monthly net income, after the deduction of the fixed expenses connected with their housing under the terms provided in the Social Welfare Act, is below the subsistence level.
Unemployment allowance (töötutoetus)
You have the right to claim unemployment allowance if:
- you are registered as unemployed;
- your monthly income is less than 31 times the daily rate of the unemployment allowance (EUR 189.10);
- for a period of at least 180 days in the year before being registered as unemployed you were occupied with work, an activity regarded as work or another activity of such a nature that it would not be possible to expect you to have worked during the year before you were registered as unemployed.
What am I entitled to and how can I claim?
If you wish to claim any of the Estonian social insurance benefits listed above, and you satisfy the criteria, then you have the right to receive the following benefits.
Subsistence level is established on the basis of minimum expenses for purchases of food, clothing, footwear and other goods and services that satisfy basic needs. According to the State Budget Act of 2020, the subsistence level for a person living alone or for the first member of a family for 2020 is EUR 150 per month. The subsistence level for each minor family member is EUR 180 per month. The subsistence level of the second and each subsequent adult member of a family is EUR 120 per month.
In addition to subsistence benefit, beneficiaries of subsistence benefits where all family members are minors are entitled to an additional social benefit of EUR 15, which will be paid by local government from state budget funds.
In addition to the subsistence benefit, the rural municipality or city government may assign and pay additional social benefits from the local government budget.
If you are assigned the unemployment allowance, you have the right to claim the allowance for up to 270 days, at a daily rate of EUR 6.10 and a 31-day rate of EUR 189.10.
Forms you may need to fill in
To claim subsistence benefit you must submit an application to the local government listing the names and personal identification codes or dates of birth of the persons to be taken into account when assessing the benefit.
The application must include documents certifying the net monthly income of a person living alone or the members of a family received during the preceding month and the amount of allowances received. If an income type or amount cannot be substantiated with documented proof, the applicant for the subsistence benefit must confirm it with their signature.
If you wish the housing costs to be covered, you need to append documents certifying:
- the right to use the dwelling (submitted upon primary application and upon change of the legal basis);
- the fixed expenses connected with the dwelling payable during the given month.
If the benefit is being claimed for the first time, or if the elements included in the following list change, a written list must be included that names the following objects used or owned by the applicant or his or her family:
- immovable property and movable housing;
- vehicles within the meaning of the Traffic Act;
- securities within the meaning of the Securities Market Act.
To claim unemployment allowance you must submit the following to the Unemployment Insurance Fund:
- an application;
- a personal identification document;
- documents which prove that you have been employed or engaged in work or an activity equal to work for at least 180 days during the twelve months prior to registration as unemployed;
- if you worked outside Estonia before registering as unemployed you must submit documents proving the start and end of the employment relationship and the reason for terminating the most recent employment relationship.
Know your rights
More information on subsistence benefit and unemployment allowance is available at the following websites.
Publications and webpage of the European Commission
Who do you need to contact?
The subsistence benefit is determined and paid by the rural municipality or city government. The application for subsistence benefit must be submitted to the local government of the administrative territory where the applicant lives, not later than the last day of the given month.
Subsistence benefit is assigned within 5 working days of the submission of all of the relevant documents. The rural municipality or city government pays the benefit amount within 3 working days of making its decision.
You can submit an unemployment allowance application in person by contacting a suitable office of the Unemployment Insurance Fund or through the self-service section, by clicking on the following link: https://www.tootukassa.ee/tkauth/login.