<--- Back to contents
Chapter 7 - Social Welfare
PROBLEM 1: Problems with grant applications
There are many problems that people have when they apply for grants. There are also problems that people have relating to the payment of grants or lapsing of grants. These are some of the problems, and some things you can do about them.
The Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (No 3 of 2000) (also called PAJA) is an important Act that says everybody has a right to administrative justice that is lawful, reasonable and procedurally fair.
All government departments and their officials and private people who exercise public powers or perform public functions have to comply with the PAJA.
‘Procedural fairness’ means –
- an administrator should not make a decision that affects someone without first hearing what they have to say. This is called the ‘audi alteram partem’ rule, and
- an administrator must be seen by everyone to be making a decision fairly and impartially (without any bias) and not because they have a private or personal interest in the matter.
An administrative action is a decision that affects the rights of –
- individual people, for example, a decision to refuse an application for a child grant
- the general public – for example, a decision to change the age for being eligible for a child grant
There are different procedures that an administrator has to follow in each of these cases and different actions that can be taken if an official doesn’t follow the requirements and procedures of the PAJA. These are dealt with in more detail in Chapter 1. Constitution and Bill of Rights.
See Section 33: Just Administrative Action. (2011 Edition)
1. Application for grant turned down
'My application for a grant was turned down.
But I am sure that I do qualify for a grant.'
If your application was refused, you should get a letter from SASSA, giving reasons why you were turned down. If you feel your application was turned down unfairly, you can appeal against the decision. This means you can ask someone higher up to look at your application again. In order to appeal you must write a letter to the Minister of Social Development. The letter must explain when and where your application was turned down, why it was turned down, and why you don’t agree with the decision. In other words, you must give reasons why you think you qualify for a grant. You must state that this is your appeal. Other requirements include:
- The appeal must be in writing;
- The appeal must be sent to the Minister of Social Development;
- The appeal must be sent within 90 days of receiving the letter of rejection (notification); if the time limit has passed, you will have to reapply for a grant, and then when it is turned down, you can appeal within 90 days
See Stage 3: Appeals Process.
2. Not having a bank account
'The SASSA officer told me I must have a bank account before I apply for a grant. She said I must come back in 2 or 3 months. But then I will lose 2 or 3 months grant money.'
This is wrong. A grant beneficiary does not need a bank account. The SASSA officer cannot stop a person applying for a grant because they do not have a bank account.
The Sassa official says I must pay him for helping me to apply for my grant.'
This is wrong. All applications for grants are free. There is no payment required for any grant application. Nobody needs to be paid at all.
If any of these people ask you for money, you can lodge a complaint with SASSA or report them to the police.
4. Long delay in getting grant
'I applied for my grant four months ago and I have still not heard anything.'
If you do not hear anything after three months, you must go to the payout point or check your bank or building society account to see if your money is there.
If your money is not there, you must take action. You can go to the SASSA officer and ask when the money will come and why it is taking so long.
You can write to the SASSA office at the provincial administration in your province, or you can write to the Director General or Minister of Social Development. In your letter you must ask for written reasons why your application has not been processed. Getting written reasons is your legal right. Always give your grant number (your grant number is often just your ID number.) You can get the help of an advice giver or lawyer. But do not make another application.
While you are waiting and you cannot survive, you should be able to get some money or food for the months that you are waiting, from the office where you applied. This is called a Social Relief of Distress Grant. It will be deducted from your grant once you get it. Take your ID book and your receipt of application with you to the office when you go to ask for relief.
See Social Relief of Distress Award
5. Moving from one place to another
‘Must I apply for a new grant if I move from one place to another?’
If a person moves from one place to another, the grant can be moved. The beneficiary must however inform the SASSA officer about the move. There is a special form to sign to transfer your grant. The SASSA officer must arrange to have the grant paid in the new place. There should not be a delay.
6. Applicant wants to apply for a Disability Grant and Child Support Grant but does not have the correct documents
Ravi wants to apply for a Disability Grant and Child Support Grants for his children. Unfortunately he does not have an identity document and none of his children have birth certificates although he has applied for these. On this basis he was refused grants by SASSA.
See Social Relief of Distress Award.
SASSA should have told Ravi that he was entitled to receive a Social Relief of Distress Award while he was waiting for his documents to be processed.
7. Shops refuse to honour vouchers given as a Social Relief of Distress Award
Futhi has applied for a Social Relief of Distress Award. During the assessment the SASSA official decided that she could receive vouchers for food as well as water and electricity. She was told she could use the voucher to buy food at approved shops in her area. When Futhi went to buy food from one of the shops, she is told that they won’t accept the voucher because they say the Department takes too long to pay them out for the vouchers. What should she do?’
Futhi should immediately report this shop to SASSA and they will have to take steps to ensure that her vouchers are accepted by all accredited service providers.
See Social Relief of Distress Award. (2011 Edition)
8. Person receiving an Older Person's Grant needs fulltime care
John receives an Older Person’s Grant. He is however very sickly and cannot look after himself. He needs a person who can care for him on a fulltime basis.
John can apply for a Grant-in-Aid which he can get in addition to his Older Person’s Grant.
9. Getting a new power of attorney or procurator
'I gave my daughter power of attorney to fetch my grant. She has not given me the full grant amount for the last two months. I want to change procurators, what do I do. '
The beneficiary must write a letter to SASSA explaining that they want to stop the current procurator and the effective date. If the beneficiary is unable to read or write then SASSA can obtain a sworn statement to this effect. The procurator whose power of attorney has been stopped has ten days to transfer any outstanding money to the beneficiary. new application for appointing a procurator will need to be made. Generally SASSA would review the power of attorney from time to time when they review the older person’s grant.
See Can another person fetch an applicant’s grant? for an explanation of ‘power of attorney’.
10. Grant stops when not collected
'I could not collect my money last month because I was sick. When I went this month the SASSA officer said my grant had stopped because no-one collected it last time.'
This is wrong. A grant only stops if it is not collected for 3 consecutive months. If the SASSA office fails to pay you what is owing, you must lodge a complaint to the head of the Regional SASSA office in your province.
11. SASSA paypoint runs out of money
'Last month the officials at the SASSA paypoint said they had run out of money. Many of us did not get our grants.'
All applicants who are affected by this should go together to the Regional SASSA office and complain. If you are not satisfied you must write to the Minister of Social Development and report the complaint.
12. Applying for back pay
'I only got my first payment 6 months after I applied.
They only paid me two month's grant money.'
You are supposed to get back pay from the date of your application. This is why it is important to get a receipt of the application when you apply for a grant. Then you have proof of the date you applied. If you have this receipt, you can write to the Regional SASSA office and ask for the four months back pay.
13. SASSA officers are rude to grant applicants
'At the payout point the SASSA officers are always very rude to us. They do not help us or tell us the right information.'
The law requires SASSA officers to treat people with dignity and provide them with correct information. The Batho Pele Principles also require that eight service delivery principles be implemented by all public servants.
If you are not satisfied, you should lodge a complaint with the District or Regional SASSA office. If you are still not satisfied you can write to the Minister of Social Development.
See Batho Pele Principles
14. Foster Care Grant is terminated because social worker does not extend the foster care court order
Namhla cares for a child whose mother is deceased. The Social Worker assisted her with getting a foster care court order for the child for 2 years. After this Namhla applied for and received a Foster Care Grant. Two years later the grant is terminated because the Social Worker did not extend the foster care order in terms of the Children’s Act. What can Namhla do?
According to a recent court case, SASSA is required to pay all foster care orders even though they have lapsed and the Dept of Social Development is required in terms of the court ruling to deal administratively with the matter. Therefore Namhla is still able to receive the foster care grant while the social worker and the DSD deals with her grant and the foster care order.
15. Grant beneficiary’s circumstances change and she does not report this to SASSA
Vicky receives a Disability Grant as she is unable to work. After she has been receiving the grant for a number of years, Vicky gets married. Her spouse is earning well above the income threshold of the means test. Vicky continues to receive her grant and fails to tell the SASSA office of her change in circumstances.
If the circumstances of a grant beneficiary change she or he must report this to a SASSA official. Failure to do this may mean that a beneficiary is guilty of fraud.
In terms of the law, if SASSA has paid more money to a grant beneficiary than they should have received, the beneficiary will have to repay the amount that was overpaid In addition to having to repay the money, the person who has received the money will be guilty of committing an act of fraud which is a criminal offence.
16. Grandmother is being paid to take care of a child
Ms van der Merwe is taking care of her granddaughter while her son is working in another town. He sends his mother an amount of R1000 every month for the care of his daughter. Mrs van der Merwe cannot manage with this money so she goes to SASSA to apply for a CSG grant. The SASSA official refuses to take the application as Mrs van der Merwe is already being paid to care for the child.
The SASSA official is wrong. The grandmother is the primary caregiver and if she qualifies in terms of the means test she should be able to access the CSG. As Mrs. van der Merwe receives R1000, which is under the maximum allowed in terms of the means test, she will still qualify for the CSG.