For several months I was involved in an EU communication project on developing a reader-friendly guide on social security benefits and social security contributions. It was an opportunity to learn in detail about the EU social security systems which still greatly vary in each member state and understand the reasons socially vulnerable people take a decision to leave Latvia.
In general, in Latvia there are still many types of benefits for different social groups such as parents, job seekers, disabled etc., although majority of them are very low, with the most ridiculous being “family benefit/ģimenes valsts pabalsts” of 11,38 euros for parents of a child under the age of 19 who is in full time education.
Socially insured persons – those who have been employed for at least a a year – are receiving higher benefits while state social security benefit for those without social insurance starts at 64,03 euro.
For example, socially insured parent (or carer) caring for a child below the age of one is entitled to receive “parent benefit/vecāku pabalsts” equal to 60% of their monthly salary (or 43,73% of monthly salary in case parent choses to receive the benefit until child reaches the age of one and a half years).
A state “childcare benefit/bērna kopšanas pabalsts” for a parent of a child under the age of one and a half years is 171 euros per month, from the age of one and a half years the benefit is reduced to 42,69 euros per month until child’s second birthday.
A family is considered “low income” if their total wage does not exceed 128,06 euros per month and they do not own property or goods other than their home. However, not all of the low income families are entitled to receive a benefit. They have to prove that the total average income for each family member (including children) per month is below “guaranteed minimal income level” – 49,80 euros per family member.
In addition, no “uncontributory benefits” which Latvian citizens are entitled to without condition of having been employed and paid social insurance contributions are available for non EU citizens holding temporary residence card (TUA). In practice, TUA does not grant any rights to social benefits or access to state health services until its holder is granted permanent residence card (PUA) which a non EU citizen is entitled to after five consecutive years of residency in Latvia.
Find a short description of various groups of social security benefits in Latvia below. Read more about different social security systems, benefits and social security contributions that are transferable when a person decides to move to another EU country on the European Commission’s website.