While, exactly seven months after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, many of the approximately 50,000 Ukrainian refugees in Estonia have been in employment for much of that time, the Estonian state does not pay survivors' pensions or funeral benefits to those bereaved in the conflict, ERR reports.
State pensions to Ukrainian pensioners will be topped-up to the Estonian level where needed, however, while Ukrainian refugees in Estonia are also eligible to other benefit payments, such as child benefits.
Katre Pall, head of the pension service at the Social Insurance Board (SKA) said "Funeral allowance is not related to employment, it is related to the residence where the deceased person lived," said Pall. He said that some people have indeed approached the Social Security Administration regarding funeral benefits.
One woman who had been working in Estonia for almost half a year found out that she would not receive any funeral allowance in Estonia, ERR reports.
"Funeral benefits are paid by the local government in Estonia to organize the funeral of a person who lived in their territory. If this deceased father lived in Ukraine, Ukraine is responsible for paying the funeral benefits," emphasized Pall. According to him, the family living in Estonia still receives help from the social services in order to receive this support from Ukraine. "An application must be submitted to the Social Insurance Board and we will forward it to Ukraine," Pall went on, adding that the decision on paying support is made by Ukraine on the basis of its own domestic laws.
Under Estonian law, children orphaned due to the conflict do not receive survivor's benefits either.
Pall added that "Pensions and benefits are person's earned right The survivor's pension is determined on the basis of the deceased breadwinner's pension.
"So for instance if the father worked in Ukraine and earned his pension rights in Ukraine, the survivor's pension is determined and paid by Ukraine," Pall went on.
While this pension can be, on request, transferred to Estonia, Pall added, but the process is lengthy and any family that does not intend to stay in Estonia permanently should consider whether doing so is sensible.
Pensions in Ukraine are in the main smaller than those in Estonia, also, though the Social Insurance Board (SKA) does pay Ukrainian refugees of retirement age the difference between their Ukrainian pension and the Estonian national pension, to make it up to the current state pension of €275 per month.
As to child, parental and other family allowances, Ukrainian can and have applied for these.
"Ukrainian families have applied for them very diligently and the number of recipients of these allowances is large," Pall said.
A woman who was now a single parent of two children reportedly received an bill of €500 from a funeral parlour in Ukraine, with other costs likely to be added on to that.
As of today, Saturday, September 24, seven months have passed since the beginning of the current phase of Russia's war on Ukraine.
Editor: Andrew Whyte