The Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs has proposed paying a monthly pension supplement of €60 to everyone over 80 years of age. Doing so would involve replacing the current system whereby pensioners receive supplements acccording to whether they have disabilities or live alone.
For pensioners, who are registered as living alone, the state will pay an allowance of €200 each November. In addition, pensioners will also receive a small disability allowance of between €12 and €40 per month, depending on the severity of their disability.
"It is precisely after the age of 80 that people's need for care, be it home care or general care, rises sharply ," said Minister of Social Protection Signe Riisalo (Reform), adding that the number of people with disabilities increases with age.
Of those aged 60-69, 17 percent receive disability support. Over 40 percent of people aged 80 and over are registered as disabled. However, disabilities have to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
"In order to make the system as a whole more responsive to the needs of the individual, a measure has been designed to abolish the aforementioned allowances from the age of 80 onwards and replace them with a single allowance : the planned pension supplement of €60 per month," Riisalo said.
The proposed changes would give pensioners with profound disabilities, who live alone an additional €2.50 a month. On the other hand, a pensioner with a moderate disability living alone would receive an extra €30 each month. However, for those who do not currently receive any benefits on top of their regular pension, the full €60 would be added to their account.
"One of the prerequisites when designing means-testing is to use a specific indicator. And this indicator could be linked to age, or it could be linked to something else," explained Riisalo. "In this case, the choice was made to go for a higher age. It is very administratively complex and therefore much more costly to implement truly personalized needs-based support measures," Riisalo added. How much the change would save in terms of administrative costs has not yet been assessed, the minister said.
Last year, €10.1 million was spent on support for people aged 80 and over with disabilities. €6.7 million went on support for pensioners in the same age group, who are living alone. If all those aged 80 and over had simply received a €60 monthly allowance instead, this would have meant an extra cost of €41.5 million.
Although the draft bill suggests the new scheme could come into force in 2026, Riisalo made no promises.
"We will wait and see what the economic forecasts are at the end of the summer or in the fall, and then we can make decisions on that basis," Riisalo said. "This is a policy proposal that has come from the experts. Whether it can be implemented, and how, depends on the country's financial situation," the minister added.
Editor: Michael Cole