The right to receive an annuity is enjoyed by all those persons who have been working in Estonia for no less than 15 years. The retirement age for males is 63 years, for females – 59 years (it is planned that this index will be raised by the year 2016 and will also become 63 years).
To those persons who have no right to receive an annuity based on employment history, the so called “national annuity” is guaranteed, to be paid from the state budget. The right to such an annuity is enjoyed by a person if he or she has been residing in Estonia for no less than years, has reached the retirements age and does not receive any pen sion from any other state.
The persons who have reached the retirement age enjoy the right to continue to work and still receive the full amount of annuity.
3. Disability benefit and benefit in an event of incapacity for work, survivor benefit All the benefits in this group are paid from the pension funds created at the expense of the social tax and mandatory medical insurance.
The right to receive the disability benefit or the benefit in an event of incapacity for work belongs to all persons under 16 years of age who as a result of their disability, or sustained trauma, or illness are 40% or more limited in their capacity for work A mandatory requirement for such benefits to be granted is the existence of an employment history, the duration of which depends on the age at which the disability (or in capacity for work) occurred. For persons aged between 16 and years, no employment history is required; for persons aged between and 62 years, the duration of employment of no less than 14 years is required.
The survivor benefit (the benefit to a surviving next of kin) is paid to the children, parents and surviving spouse of a deceased person. In this connection it is of no importance whether those persons were the de ceased person’s dependants. The amount of the benefit is calculated by the same method as the incapacity for work pension for the de ceased person would have been calculated (the only exception is death as a result of a production trauma or an occupational disease – in this case the maximum amount of pension is paid, irrespective of the dura tion of employment).
The deceased person’s relatives also receive a lumpsum compensa tion of the cost of the funeral, in the amount of 5,500 Estonian kroons (of which 2,000 kroons come from the state pension fund, and 3,kroons – from the insurance pension fund).
4. Benefits for children and benefits designed to support the family Beside the traditional benefits belonging to this group, which exist in nearly every country (maternity and delivery benefit – 100% of the amount of salary for 140 days, maternity leave benefit – 80% of the amount of salary for the next 315 days payable to any parent; a lump sum payment in the event of a birth or adoption of child – 320 euro; the child benefit and the benefit to the carer of a child, the amount of which is increased in proportion to the number of children in a family), in Esto nia there exist the following types of family benefits, or opportunities equivalent to those benefits:
• tax deductions (the right to deduct from the taxable base the costs associated with the education of children aged up to 26 years; the right to increase the untaxed minimum if the family has more than one child aged up to 17 years; the right to receive from the State the compensation for 50% of the amount of an education credit re ceived for a child);
• increased duration of a paid leave (by 7 days for employed minor persons and disabled persons, by 1 day for the carer of a disabled child, by 3 to 6 days for one of the parents depending on the num ber of children in the family and by 14 days, as a one time benefit, for fathers granted a maternity leave);
• the payment for the breaks in working time needed to breastfeed a child (such breaks must be granted to breastfeeding mothers every three hours; their duration must be no less than half an hour; the upper limit to the child’s age is 1.5 years).
5. Unemployment benefit The unemployment benefit is paid to any person who has reached the age of 16 years, has full or partial capacity for work, has been regis tered at a local employment center and during the 12 months prior to registration worked for at least 180 days. The last requirement is not mandatory, if the said person during 180 days was caring for a child, was the carer of a disabled child, or was undergoing in hospital medical treatment. The unemployment benefit is paid for 270 days from the moment of registration.
As a result of reform of 2001–2002, a system of state insurance against unemployment has been created. The State forms an insurance fund from the deductions from salaries (at the rate of 0.5% to 2%) and from the tax paid by employers (at the rate of 0.25 to 1% of salaries or other types of remuneration paid to employees). Insured persons re ceive insurance payments in the amount of 50% of their previous in come during the first 100 days after registration and in the amount of 40% of their previous income during the next 260 days (360 days is the upper limit for the receipt of unemployment insurance payments; as a rule, this period can be shortened depending on the duration of the in surance coverage).
In the event when an insurance agreement is terminated early, em ployees have the right to a compensation of their insurance savings in the amount of one or two salaries.
6. Aid in the acquisition of housing and aid in the restoration of “social inclusion” This category of payment is very broad and does not depend on so cial insurance. Such payments are granted to those social strata who are in need or are socially unprotected. Among the benefits belonging to this group are the poverty benefit (paid to persons whose income is no higher than the subsistence level), the refugee benefit (in the amount of necessary small expenditures), the compensation to victims of political repressions, the benefit to persons who have contracted HIV or AIDS, the benefit to prisoners who have served their sentence, pay able until their resocialization.
The amount of medical payments in 2003 constituted 31.8% of all the social payments, the disability benefit and the benefit in an event of incapacity for work – 9.3%, annuity – 44%, the survivor benefit – 0.8%, the family benefit – 10%, the unemployment benefit – 1.8%, aid in the acquisition of housing – 0.6%, the cost of “social inclusion” – 1.6% (4.2%, 1.2%, 5.8%, 0.1%, 1.3%, 0.2%, 0.1%, and 0.2% of GDP, re spectively).
In addition to everything discussed above, “ Law on the aid to victims of crimes” of 17 December 2003 is deserving of special interest. In ac cordance with this law, the victims of crimes associated with violence (or their relatives), if resulting from the crime was the victim’s death or damage to his or her health, have the right to receive a compensation from the state pension fund in an event when there exists no opportu nity to receive compensation from the person who has committed the crime. The upper limit of the amount of compensation is 50,000 Esto nian kroons (or 3,300 euro).
Thus, the state social security system in Estonia is sufficiently strong and requires far less efforts on the part of the potential recipients of so cial payments than in Poland.
The state promotion of the activity of non government organizations is less developed than in Poland. A the present moment, in Estonia’s social sphere there exist, as estimated by the Ministry, between 1,and 1,500 non government organizations (the index is approximate be cause many non government organizations have no status of a juridical person and therefore are not subject to mandatory State registration).
Most of them are affiliations of foreign and international NGOs or small size organizations created during the transition period as a result of the then acute need to find a local solution to a specific social problem. A separate group is constituted by those NGOs that have been created as a result of reorganization of administrative formations created by the State during the Soviet period. The activity of NGOs in Estonia is regu lated by general civil legal norms established for non commercial or ganizations; no special regulation is applied. The operation of NGOs in the social sphere is characterized by a higher degree of variability, both in the areas of activity and in the methods applied and results achieved.
The main achievement of Estonian NGOs is that of information support:
non government organizations, firstly, publish the information concern ing persons in need of social support, influence public opinion in order to draw the public’s attention to social problems and develop a more positive attitude to the destitute social strata, and organize the training of volunteers and the persons whose interests they protect; secondly, they refer the information concerning the existing social problems to local and state bodies of authority and put forth amendments to prevail ing legislation. NGOs are financed mainly from private sources, as well as from state and local budgets. In this connection, the cooperation with the authorities takes place mainly at the local level; the chances for NGOs to receive budget funding, as well as administrative support, de pend on the importance, in a given region (or district), of the problems being provided solutions to by NGOs. Only 8% of NGOs have their own income as the principal source of funding.
Among the staff of NGOs, only 40% have professional education di rectly relating to their activity. Approximately 70% of NGOs pay salaries to their staff, the rest work on a purely voluntary basis (without remu neration). More than half of those NGOs where salaries are paid also attract volunteers to their activity.
Summary: “… Walking without a safety net” The social security systems in Poland and Estonia are striving to comply with the bulky and very detailed requirements established by the European Union, famous for its paternalistic orientation (see, in par ticular, Mau, Novikov, Yanovskiy, Kovalev, 2002). This is undoubtedly what is common in the approaches of Russia and her former socialist “inmates”. In the very likely situation when those social security systems based on the State’s “generosity” may collapse in not too distant future, the consequences for Russia and for the two countries selected for our overview will be fundamentally different. Poland and Estonia are rapidly and on a private basis building their “reserves” – less universal and bulky, but flexible and, consequently, more stable mechanisms for aid ing those who are incapable of work. Russia has, in fact, frozen the de velopment of such a system, hoping for the effect of centralized efforts on the part of the government. Such an approach creates risks of far more grave consequences of the potential collapse than those existing in Poland and Estonia.
Annex Basic initial data for statistical analysis Infant mortal Death Rate Small busi Small busi Infant mortal ity caused by (heart dis Salary brutto, Unemploy Region population ness empl. ness empl.
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