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At the beginning of the sitting, the alternate members of the Riigikogu Maimu Berg and Tatjana Jaanson and the Minister of Agriculture Ivari Padar took the oath of office. 

Then, the Minister of Social Affairs Helmen Kütt replied to the interpellation concerning social benefits for disabled persons of old age pension age (No 389), submitted by Members of the Riigikogu Viktor Vassiljev, Valeri Korb, Lauri Laasi, Tarmo Tamm, Ester Tuiksoo and Peeter Võsa on 18 February. 

The interpellators wished to know when social benefits for disabled persons of old age pension age are planned to be raised or what the alternatives are for helping such people to cope with everyday life. 

Kütt explained that the elderly policy includes various areas – family and environment, health care and welfare services, working and coping, education, culture and sports, non-profit organisations and self-assistance, regional and international cooperation. In her words, the aims of the elderly policy include a living standard which maintains the dignity of the elderly and equal position with other age groups. Various methods must be implemented to achieve this. 

Kütt noted that the needs of the elderly depend on several circumstances, e.g. family, age, physical and mental health, and lifestyle, and therefore these needs cannot be standardised. Social benefits paid to disabled persons of old age pension age are only one part of the measures. “The disability allowance paid on the basis of the Social Benefits for Disabled Persons Act is intended for partial compensation for additional expenses caused by the disability – medicines, technical aids, etc. It is not intended for covering everyday living costs, like for example housing expenses,” Kütt said. She added that, besides financial support, an elderly person may also receive, if necessary, various services such as treatment service, rehabilitation service as well as the service provided by the local government. 

The Minister of Social Affairs stated that undoubtedly a disabled elderly person may find it more difficult to cope with everyday life than the elderly who have no disabilities. “Unfortunately the benefits paid to disabled persons cannot be regarded as separate from the economic possibilities of the state and the general standard of living of the people. These factors set limits not only to the benefits for disabled persons, but to the rates of many other benefits and pensions,” Kütt said. 

The Minister of Social Affairs also replied to the interpellation concerning Narva Labour Dispute Committee (No 387) and concerning the checking of Estonian language proficiency of health care professionals (No 388). 

During the open microphone, Lembit Kaljuvee and Mihhail Stalnuhhin took the floor. 

Photos of taking the oath of office: http://fotoalbum.riigikogu.ee/v/2014/Riigikogu/7042014/

The Riigikogu Press Service