Reaching adulthood

People are usually deemed to have reached adulthood at 18 years of age, but the services and benefits intended for children with disabilities change significantly on a child’s 16th birthday, when the child becomes of so-called working age. While most young people with special needs are able to get by with the support of their family and loved ones when they reach adulthood, the situation is more complicated among young people with disabilities, especially those with intellectual disabilities and mental disorders. Often, the prospects of these young people depend on the initiative and support of their family, as opportunities are lacking both for independent living and in the labour market. In such cases it is particularly important to apply for support and assistance from the state and local government.

From the age of 16, a child is considered to be a person of working age, and the degree of severity of their disability is determined on the basis of the extent to which it hinders them in their daily activities and participation in society. As with children, the degree of severity of an adult’s disability may be profound, severe, or moderate.

  • Profound disability – the person has no capacity to perform daily activities or participate in society.
  • Severe disability – the person has limited capacity to perform daily activities or participate in society.
  • Moderate disability – the person has difficulty in performing daily activities or participating in society.

When determining a disability, the impairments stemming from the disability are considered for each of the main functions of the human body (mobility, vision, etc.). After the degree of severity of the disability has been established, the person can apply for disability allowance for a person of working age, which is intended to reduce the additional expenses caused by the disability. The degree of severity of the disability of a person of working age is determined for a period of up to 5 years. If the person’s health status changes during that period, they have the right to request a new examination for determining the degree of severity of the disability.

Additional work ability assessment

In addition to determining disability, from the age of 16, a young person must undergo an assessment of their ability to enter the labour market and their prospects for managing successfully therein. Work ability assessments are carried out by the Unemployment Insurance Fund – both for children who have reached the age of 16 and persons whose term of permanent incapacity for work registered with the Social Insurance Board is about to expire. For assessment of work ability, an application must be submitted to the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund that describes your operational capacity and limitations in performing various activities.

The application for assessment of work ability and detailed information about the assessment process are available on the website of the Unemployment Insurance Fund.

In the course of the assessment of work ability, a young person may be determined to have full work ability, partial work ability, or no work ability. To calculate the amount of your work ability allowance, you can use the work ability allowance calculator. To fill out and submit the application for work ability allowance, follow the instructions on the Unemployment Insurance Fund’s webpage on work ability allowance.

For additional information, you may contact the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund.

Illustratsioon: kaks noort hüppamas suure karika kõrval.