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Sassa ‘sets record straight’ on doctors

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Sassa disability or dependency grant, you have to first be referred by your own doctor to a Sassa-approved doctor to determine whether you qualify.

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THE SA Social Services Agency (Sassa) has denied that there are no doctors available in the Northern Cape to approve disability and dependency grants.

It has been alleged that thousands of people in the Province, who have various illnesses preventing them from working, are unable to access disability or dependency welfare grants as there are no Sassa-approved doctors in the Province.

According to a member of the public, this situation is affecting thousands of people in the Province who have cancer, TB, amputations etc and are not able to work.

“These people are now not able to qualify for grants and are left destitute. It is also affecting the parents of many children who are ill, including those who have cancer. These parents, especially mothers, often have to stop working to look after their ill children. Now, however, these families are going hungry because there is no money for food,” the woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, said.

She added that to qualify for a Sassa disability or dependency grant, you have to first be referred by your own doctor to a Sassa-approved doctor to determine whether you qualify. Because there are currently no Sassa-approved doctors available, these people have allegedly been left destitute.

This, however, has been refuted by Sassa.

Sassa in the Northern Cape stated yesterday that the agency had contracted 19 doctors in December 2018 to perform medical assessments on disability grant applicants. This contract is valid for three years and these contracted doctors are currently performing medical assessments for Sassa in all five districts in the Northern Cape.

Sassa provincial spokesperson Inno Khunou said yesterday that at no stage was Sassa without approved medical doctors to perform medical assessments.

“We need to set the record straight by stating that there are 19 assessing doctors in the Province.

However, she did apologise for any inconvenience caused by a delay in assessing applicants.

According to Khunou, prior to August 2018 Sassa had a challenge emanating from the circular: “Employees doing business with an organ of state”, which was circulated to all government institutions and departments on September 5 2016. In terms of the circular, public servants, including medical doctors, were not allowed to do business with government.

“This grant should also not be misconstrued as a sick or illness grant. There is no grant for sickness. An applicant must be found to be so disabled that he/she cannot participate in the open labour market in order to qualify for a disability grant,” Khunou said.

For more information, beneficiaries or community members are requested to contact the NC toll-free line 0800 003 077.