Needs-based family benefit

What is needs-based family benefit?


The aim of the needs-based family benefit is to provide additional support to families with children whose income is below the relative poverty threshold. The scheme is organised and financed centrally by the state. Needs-based family benefit is granted and paid by local governments from state budget funds. The provisions for the application for, granting and payment of needs-based family benefit are laid down with the Social Welfare Act.

The income threshold of needs-based family benefit for the first member of the family is established by the Parliament for each budgetary year. The income threshold is based on the relative poverty threshold as last published by Statistics Estonia by 1 March of the year preceding the budgetary year.

Upon calculating the income threshold of needs-based family benefit, the first person in the family (i.e. the applicant) is assessed at 100%. Each following family member is assessed at 50% (if 14 years or older) or 30% (if under 14 years) of the income threshold for the first member of the family.

The average monthly income of a family is calculated on the basis of the net income of the three months preceding the application for needs-based family benefit..

Monthly amount of the income threshold of needs-based family benefit in 2017:

  • first person in the household: €394,
  • each subsequent household member aged 14 years or older: €197,
  • each subsequent household member under 14 years old: €118,2.

The needs-based family benefit is paid for three months based on the income of the family in the three previous months. Benefit amounts depend on whether the family has one or multiple children who receive child allowance.

The monthly amount of needs-based family benefit:

  • families with one child receiving child allowance: €45,
  • families with at least two children receiving child allowance: €90.

Local municipalities may grant and pay additional social benefits from the budget of the local government concerned.


Who are entitled to needs-based family benefit?


Needs-based family benefit is meant for families where at least one family member is a child receiving child allowance and:

  • whose average monthly family income is below a certain income threshold, or
  • to whom subsistence benefit was granted in the previous month.

Upon the grant of needs-based family benefit, the following persons who live in the same dwelling and have a shared household are deemed to be family members:
 1) persons who are married or in a relationship similar to marriage;
 2) ascendants and descendants related in the first and second degree;
 3) other persons who have a shared household.
Students up to 24 years of age are deemed to be members of the family if the address details of their residence entered in the population register coincide with the address details of the residence of the family members. 

All and any income of a person living alone or the net income of all the members of a family during the preceding month, not specified as an exception by law, will be considered as income. For example, wages, family allowances (with the exception of a child allowance per third and every consecutive child in the amount of 45 euros per every child that receives the aforementioned child allowance), unemployment insurance benefit, unemployment benefit, received child support, maintenance allowance, pension, disabled person’s allowance, income tax return, any other form of income. 

Upon calculating needs-based family benefit, the following shall not be included in the income of a person living alone or a family:

  • single benefits paid to a person living alone, a family or members thereof out of the funds of the state budget or local budget;
  • periodic benefits paid from local government budget funds pursuant to the legislation of the local government which are dependent on family income or granted to compensate for the cost of a specific service;
  • benefits paid on the basis of the Social Benefits for Disabled Persons Act, except for the disabled parent's allowance;
  • student loan granted with security guaranteed by the state;
  • grants and transport benefits paid on the basis of the Labour Market Services and Benefits Act or from the structural assistance funds;
  • needs-based study allowance and needs-based special allowance paid on the basis of the Study Allowances and Study Loans Act and allowance paid from a special allowance fund established by an educational institution;
  • child allowance for the third and each subsequent child paid on the basis of the State Family Benefits Act in the amount of 45 euros for each child receiving child allowance.
  • needs-based family benefit.

In addition, a rural municipality or city government may choose not to include grants paid for a specific purpose or benefits paid to cover specific expenses or loss in the income of a person living alone or a family.


Who should You address?


Needs-based family benefit will be granted and paid by local governments.

In order to obtain a needs-based family benefit, an application should be submitted by the last working day of the month to the local government in whose administrative territory the actual residence of the applicant is located. Only the person who is paid child allowance on the basis of the State Family Benefits Act for a child or children who are members of the family has the right to apply for a needs-based family benefit. The applicant shall indicate in the application the names, personal identification codes or dates of birth of the family members. If the family was not granted subsistence benefit the previous month, documents which prove the net income of family members and the amount of support paid during the three months preceding the submission of the application, shall be appended to the application.

A rural municipality or city government has the right to refuse to grant a subsistence benefit if the subsistence benefit applicant or a child entitled to receive maintenance who lives together with the applicant, or other descendant or ascendant who needs assistance and is unable to maintain himself or herself has the right to receive support but who refuses to submit a document certifying the right to receive the support or refuses to claim the support.



Last updated: 15 February 2017