City to adjust the criteria for granting social benefits

The Tallinn City Government presented the City Council with a draft regulation for adjusting the criteria and procedure for granting social benefits.

According to Deputy Mayor Betina Beškina the changes primarily serve the interests of applicants by simplifying procedures and making the criteria more lenient. “These changes are based on suggestions received from beneficiaries and officials as well as their needs and expectations. For instance, we have simplified the criteria for applying for disabled child allowance so that the application need not be renewed annually. The childbirth allowance can now be applied for by a parent who does not live in the same place as the child and the application period for the funeral grant will be extended from three to six months,” explained Beškina. “Hereby we encourage everyone who seeks social benefits to use our fast and convenient e-services for filing the applications insofar as possible.”

Essentially the changes concern the application criteria and procedure across seven different benefits. Childbirth allowance used to be subject to the requirement that the applicant’s registered place of residence must be the same as that of the child but the new system allows applications from parents who do not live the same place as the child. As to the allowance for first-graders, the requisite period during which the City of Tallinn must feature in the Population Register as the place of residence of the parent applying for the allowance will be shortened. According to the new system, the parent must have been living in Tallinn at least since 1 January of the year when the child is enrolled - the old system required a minimum period of one year prior to enrolment.

The disabled child allowance needs to be applied for only once and - provided that the eligibility criteria continue to be met - the allowance will be automatically paid once a year during beneficiary’s birth month. According to the old system, the application had to be renewed annually. The transition to independent living allowance is now a one-off benefit as it is no longer paid in instalments. The time limits for applying for the pension supplement have been revised. According to the new rules, the supplement can be applied for during the calendar year following the calendar year when the pension was awarded or the applicant’s partial capacity for work or complete incapacity was determined. The requirement to file the application during the birth month or during the two preceding months was waived.

The guide dog allowance will be subject to additional criteria like entry in the Pet Register, completion of an adjustment training by the applicant and the guide dog, and annual veterinary examination.

The application period for the funeral grant will be extended from three to six months as from the date of death. Previously, applications were reviewed by the Social Welfare Division of the relevant District Government and the Tallinn Vital Statistics Department, but as from next year this will be done by the Social Welfare Division only.

The new rules come into effect on 1 January 2020.