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Sassa provides details on payment of grants

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This is how grants will be paid.

DETAILS have been made available by the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) regarding the payment of social grants this month, as well as the temporary social relief grants, including child support grants and the unemployment grant.

Sassa Northern Cape spokesperson Inno Khunou said on Tuesday that in response to the Covid19 lockdown by President Cyril Ramaphosa, all Sassa offices country-wide are closed until the end of the lockdown or as directed by the president. 

“However, beneficiaries are assured that social grants will continue to be paid as usual,” she said.

Khunou added that pursuant to the president’s lockdown announcement, the minister of Social Development reworked certain portions of the social assistance regulations to assist vulnerable families with food insecurity (food parcels), especially those not receiving social grants. “Obviously, there is a qualifying criteria to adhere to as it will not be a ‘one size fits all’ type of allocation. 

“To qualify for a Sassa food parcel will depend on the merit of each case, hence people requesting a parcel have to stay at home and not visit Sassa offices. Instead they must phone the Sassa Northern Cape call centre free of charge, on the Northern Cape toll-free number 0800 003 077.

“Callers must have their identity number at hand, to enable Sassa to screen their request and check on the system if the requestor receives a grant or not and what type of grant. Sassa will also ask further questions that will enable us to make a determination and process the request,” Khunou stated.

She added that payment dates had been staggered with effect from May 2020, all in pursuit of protecting the vulnerable elderly and people with disabilities during the lockdown and against Covid-19 infections and to keep the social distancing criteria of two metres. 

“First preference will be given to the above-named categories to enable them to access their old age and disability grants on May 4 and 5, unhampered by large crowds. All other social grants will be paid from May 6 onwards.” 

Khunou stated further that Sassa had also been inundated with calls regarding the president’s announcement of Tuesday, April 21, relating to the various temporary grant amounts for child support, primary caregiver and other social grants including the unemployment social relief grant for the coming six months. 

“For the payment cycle of May 2020, all child support grants will get a once-off R300 per child, over and above the normal R440 child support grant that they receive. This R300 is a once-off payment for the month of May 2020 only. As from June 2020, the child support grant reverts to the usual R440 per month but then (from June) the caregiver will get a single R500 per month. Not R500 per child, as social media fake news had it and thus confusing the public. All other grants not mentioned above will be paid topped up with an additional R250,” explained Khunou. 

She stated that there was also a myriad of enquiries about the Covid-19 SRD grant of R350 for unemployed citizens. 

“This grant will be for a period of six months, meant to provide social relief to the unemployed of the country. Sassa is charged with the administration and disbursement of this temporary relief grant. The department will, in due course, make pronouncements on it. Already Sassa officials are hard at work to ensure the criteria, requirements and the automated processes are in place to heed the president’s instruction. When the system is ready, which will be very soon, it will be announced and people can start in earnest to apply.”

A qualification criteria is being developed, which will be used for this Covid-19 grant of R350 meant to assist the unemployed. 

All South African citizens, as per the Social Assistance Act of 2004, without any form of income, older than 18 years and primarily those from the informal sector, will be considered. This includes refugees and permanent residents. 

“All identity documents and permits will be cross-checked against other data sources and false applications will result in penalties and a potential fine. 

“By virtue of applying for this grant, applicants give the government the right to be checked against all government databases.”

Khunou explained further that this grant excludes the following: those who are receiving grants in their households (the Sassa Socpen system will be used to screen those); those entitled to the unemployment insurance fund (UIF); those receiving any form of income including pensions checked against Sars and banks; national student financial aid scheme (NSFAS); small business owners supported through the Department of Small Business Development; and any persons in a state-funded institution like prisons, shelters, facilities, etc.

Information required for processing applications include the applicant’s identity number or Home Affairs refugee permit, name and surname as captured in the ID, banking details (bank name and account number with cellphone contact details) and the reason for application of the social relief of distress. 

“The public is requested to be patient as positive progress is made daily to make sure the back-end of the system is finalised.”

Khunou added that the system had already been tested with “soft launches” that took place over the weekend and progressive strides were being achieved at every step.

“Applications will be automated to prevent sending crowds of people to the offices of Sassa during lockdown, thereby exposing them to coronavirus infections. The public must please stay at home.

“Needless to say, our services must at all times adhere to the social assistance legislation and regulations, importantly, the current disaster regulations and pronouncements of the president and his Cabinet, especially during the Covid-19 lockdown. 

“For any Sassa-related enquiries about grants, the 0800 003 077 is the number to call at no charge,” concluded Khunou.