In addition to the fragmentation of services in the areas of health, education, and social affairs, disparities between services on a national and municipal level pose a major problem in Estonia. On the one hand, people in need do not know which services they are entitled to and where to obtain those services, on the other hand, service providers lack an overview of the needs of (possible) recipients. For this reason, people who need help are frequently stuck between systems and subsequently do not receive the required services they are eligible for. Since Estonia is moving towards decentralization, meaning that municipalities should take on as many functions as possible, the assessment of help needed should take place on a municipal level. As the identification of possible disabilities and/or the evaluation of one’s ability to work constitutes a major premise for the receipt of services, it is of utmost importance to ensure that municipalities are able to evaluate the need of people with special needs and to provide services regardless of the identification of disabilities. In order to do that, it is critical to chart the current path of people in need from the moment of recognition of a disability and/or a diminished capacity to work. Considering that nearly 12% of the Estonian population is suffering under some form of disability and that as of 12/31/2019 56,980 people were determined to be partially capable of working, and 31,925 people were determined to be incapacitated for work, meaning that 88,905 people had partial or no capacity to work, decisions made on a national level affect the lives of a considerable number of people and therefore, it is of great importance that decisions are based on thorough analysis.
Labour & Social Policy