The state's draft budget for 2014 would reduce the amount of money allocated for monthly disabilities benefits next year by 10 percent, down to 59.6 million euros.
The Social Affairs Ministry's social welfare financial policy director, Agne Nettan-Sepp, told uudised.err.ee that disabilities benefits will generally remain at the same level as in the current year, but experts expect the number of Estonians with disabilities to shrink by about 1,000, down to a total of 144,000.
She said the allocations reflect only an estimate of expenses, and payouts wouldn't be restricted if earmarks were to run out. "That means if the respective expenses emerge, they will be paid out to people regardless," she said.
"In compiling the budget we must predict how much money is needed for one or another activity or assistance in the following year. We base the forecast on indicators from previous years, as well as changes and the pace of growth. We took into account that last year the pace of new people with disabilities slowed down," she said.
Nettan-Sepp noted a number of variables in drawing up calculations, such as changing age structure.
"For example, there are more elderly people with disabilities than children, and aid for a child with a serious disability is greater than aid for pension-aged people," she said.
"The structure of the degrees of seriousness of disabilities also influences the sum of the payouts. For example, if there is a slower increase in the number of people with serious disabilities than the number of people with moderate disabilities, then expenses for benefits will also grow more slowly."