Chapter 7 - Social Welfare
Where can you apply?
You can apply at the nearest SASSA local or counter service point of a district office in your area.
When can you apply?
You can apply from Monday to Friday but some counter service points are only open for grants on certain days of the week or month, or sometimes only once in two months. Check with your local counter service point for opening times.
What can you use for proof of identity?
Proof of identity, South African citizenship and age:
Alternative identification documents
Some South Africans and foreign nationals have experienced problems in getting their identity documents from the Department of Home Affairs. As this remains a challenge, it is important to know what alternative identity documents can be used to apply for and receive social assistance.
In 2005, the Alliance for Children's Entitlement to Social Security (ACESS) – in which the Black Sash participates along with other civil society organisations - took the Minister of Social Development to court.
The purpose was to insist that the government implements the 2005 Regulations which allowed children to use alternative identification where they did not have any, particularly where the Department of Home Affairs had not yet issued their documents. This became known as the ‘Paper Chase Case’. ACESS won the case, but the government appealed. Finally in March 2008, the court instructed the government to allow alternative identification to be used by adults and children. Five months later, in August 2008, new Regulations were published which included the option of using alternative identification documentation.
SASSA offices have since then been implementing these regulations, and the Department of Social Development has monitored implementation to ensure the court order is complied with.
Section 11(1) of the 2008 Regulations of the Social Assistance Act of 2004 says that SASSA may accept alternative proof of identification where the person currently has no valid proof (an identity document or a birth certificate).
Alternative proof could include
These could also be supported by
Ideally alternative identification should only be used as a temporary measure. While it has not been regulated, SASSA requires that grant beneficiaries apply to the Department of Home Affairs within three months for their proper documents. Once the person provides proof of having applied for their documents, the grant will continue to be paid until the beneficiary receives their identity documents and returns to the SASSA office to update their records. However, if they do not apply for these documents and do not return to SASSA to confirm that this has been done within the three month period, payment of their grant may be suspended.
How do you apply for a grant?
There are three stages in the process of applying for a grant:
Stage 1: Application process
The application for the social assistance grants is free and should not take longer than 2 hours. This has to be done at a SASSA office.
You must take all your proof to the nearest SASSA District office or counter service point. Some of the forms that you are required to complete will be given to you and you will need to have these correctly filled in.
You will first have to fill in an application form in the presence of a SASSA officer. After this there will be an interview, fingerprints will be taken, and then you must present information to prove your means (income and assets) to see if you qualify under the means test. The documents will be verified by another SASSA officer. All information that you provide during the application process will need to be signed by you as being true and correct. When the application is made, you should say how you would like the money to be paid.
In addition, if you are applying for a Disability Grant, the following steps will be taken:
Stage 2: Notification process
It will take about thirty working days for your application to be processed and checked and either approved or refused.
If your application is approved it must be dated and in the language that you prefer.
If the application is approved, you should start getting payments within 3 months. Payments will be backdated to the day you applied for the grant. If you have not received payment within 3 months, you can find out what has happened to the application and when you can expect payment by contacting the following number: SASSA toll-free helpline on 0800 601 011.
If the application is rejected, the rejection must be made in writing in the language that you prefer and it must advise you on your right to appeal and the process to follow.
Stage 3: Appeals process
If the application is rejected, a letter of appeal can be written to the Minister of Social Development explaining why you do not agree with the decision. This appeal must be sent (lodged) within 90 days of receiving the letter of rejection. The Minister reviews the appeal and may decide to overturn the decision of rejection or may agree with the first assessment.
The Minister may also appoint an independent tribunal which has to deal with the matter within 30 days. If the matter has been referred to a tribunal, you must be given a chance to address the tribunal. The Minister must inform you, within 30 days of the finalization of the tribunal process, of the tribunal’s conclusion.
Can another person make the application on behalf of an applicant?
If the applicant cannot be made by the caregiver or beneficiary because they are too old or sick, a friend or family member can bring a letter from them and a doctor's note saying why the primary caregiver cannot visit the office themselves. A home visit may then be arranged. The Agency can also appoint a Procurator for this person.
Remember you can also apply for a Grant-in-Aid at the same time as you apply for an Older Person’s Grant, Disability Grant or War Veteran’s Grant if you cannot look after yourself and need full-time care.
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