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Subsistence benefit

The subsistence benefit is financial state support for persons in need and it is paid by the local government. Depending on the situation, local governments use social services and other social assistance for the alleviation of need. The subsistence benefit is paid if other measures for the alleviation of poverty and need have proven inadequate.

Subsistence benefits are calculated based on the net income for the previous month of a person living alone or all members of a family, residence expenses to be paid for the current month, and the subsistence level. In 2018, the subsistence level for a person living alone or for the first member of a family is 140 euros per month. The subsistence level for each under-age family member is also 168 euros per month. The subsistence level for each following full-age family member is 112 euros per month. A person receiving a subsistence benefit whose family members are all under-age has the right to receive an additional social assistance of 15 euros along with the subsistence benefit, paid by the local government from state budget funds. The subsistence level is established by the Riigikogu with the state budget.

The municipal or city government can also assign and pay additional social benefits from the local budget. Families applying for a subsistence benefit whose members include children receiving child allowance can also apply for a needs-based family benefit.

Application for and calculation, assignment and payment of subsistence benefits is regulated by the Social Welfare Act.

Subsistence benefit is paid to persons living alone or families whose monthly income is below the statutory subsistence level after the deduction of residence expenses following the stipulations of the Social Welfare Act.

All earnings of the person living alone or family not listed as an exception in the Act are counted as income. For instance, wages, family allowances, unemployment insurance benefits, unemployment allowance, maintenance support, maintenance allowances, pensions, disabled parent’s allowance, income tax returns, and other income are counted as income within the meaning of the Act.

The person applying for the benefit must submit the subsistence benefit application to the government of the rural municipality or town whose administrative territory their actual residence is located. The subsistence benefit will be assigned within five business days of the submission of all required documents. The amount of the benefit is paid out by the local government within three business days of the date of the publication of the decision. 

Additional information about applying for subsistence benefits is provided by the local government of your residence.


Additional information

Last updated: 3 January 2018