In Estonia, social services are provided by a governmental agency – the Social Insurance Board (sotsiaalkindlustusamet) – and two public legal bodies – the Health Insurance Fund (haigekassa) and the Unemployment Insurance Fund (töötukassa).
Some social services (like transportation allowance, kindergarten and school allowance) are also provided by local government units.
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You will need valid health insurance.
Health insurance is provided by the employer via the Health Insurance Fund both for the residents of Estonia for whom the social tax is paid or who pay the social tax for themselves.
Health insurance includes, but is not limited to:
– laboratory tests,
– preventive check-ups,
– hospital care,
– pre-natal and postnatal care,
– benefits for pharmaceuticals,
– temporary incapacity for work.
Outpatient fees also apply (they’re never more than 5 euros).
You will also need a GP (family doctor) when living in Estonia.
On the state level, family and child allowances are provided by the Estonian Social Insurance Board and by local governments (mostly support for education, extracurricular activities and school transport).
The statewide services include both the child allowance and the childbirth allowance. It also includes Estonia’s unique parental benefit system which allows 435 paid days off work to care for a newborn child. New mothers can stay at home for three years, receiving total pay equal to about a year and a half of the average salary.
Additionally, before the child turns 70 days of age, the mother raising the child has the right to the compensation. After that the parents have the right to the benefit by turns. That means that dads can also stay home and take care of their children. This is also the reason why you see so many dads strolling with baby carriages during the day, or why there are so many dads on the childrens playgrounds.
This makes Estonia one of the most generous countries in the OECD in this respect. See the chart of OECD countries’ parental leaves on the website of The Economist.
The social care system in Estonia is largely contribution-based.
It offers several benefits if you have worked and paid contributions in Estonia. The benefits include the unemployment benefit and various related allowances that you can receive after having registered with the Unemployment Insurance Fund.
Subsistence level benefits
The subsistence level benefits are paid by the local municipality or city government. They are paid to people with insufficient income and who are living below the subsistence level.
The Estonian pension system stands on three pillars:
- I pillar or state pension. This is the responsibility of the Estonian Social Insurance Board.
- II pillar or mandatory funded pension. This is the responsibility of the Estonian Pension Registry, insurance companies and banks.
- III pillar or supplementary funded pension. This is the responsibility of Estonian Pension Registry, insurance companies and banks.
To receive the old age pension (I pillar e.g. state pension), apply for it via the Social Insurance Board. A person is eligible for an Estonian retirement e.g. old-age pension when they have reached the Estonian retirement age and they have proof of at least 15 years of pensionable service in Estonia, in the EU member states, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland or in the countries with which Estonia has signed a bilateral cooperation agreement on social security (so-called partner countries).
To receive mandatory ( e.g. II pillar) or supplementary (e.g. III pillar) funded pensions, apply for it via Pension Registry or contact life insurance undertaking.