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Minister ’working on plan’ to deal with hundreds of thousands of expiring grants

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Social grants are due to lapse in a few days’ time.

Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

SOCIAL Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu said that 210,778 temporary disability grants, 222,021 disability-related grants and 11,234 care dependency grants are due to lapse at the end of December.

She revealed this in response to parliamentary questions from DA MP Alexandra Abrahams.

“We are now working on a plan to address the significant number which will expire at the end of December, costing approximately R1.2 billion,” Zulu said.

“This estimated cost cannot be accommodated within the existing budget, so we are considering alternatives to prevent bulk lapsing on December 31, 2020, by introducing staggered dates for lapsing between December 2020 and March 2021 to manage the influx for citizens who may wish to re-apply for the disability grant.“

The cost of the extension of the care dependency grants from October to December was R41,823,960 and the temporary disability grants R784,094,160.

“The numbers of grants affected, should they be extended to March 31 2021, are 11,243 care dependency grants and 210,778 temporary disability grants.

She said there was a backlog in the disability-related grants in terms of the new application. Zulu said the backlog of new applications has been reduced from 19,053 to 6,707 by the end of October.

“The provinces which still have a backlog of new applications are Gauteng with 1,282, Mpumalanga with 277 and the Western Cape with 5,148.”

She said that the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa), with the Department of Social Development, has been working on a plan to ensure the beneficiaries to be affected by the bulk lapsing of grants re-applied by March 2021.

Zulu said young adults with severe disabilities would have to report to a Sassa office or health facility for a medical assessment and return at a later date to complete the application process.

“Sassa has developed a project plan to complete paper-based medical assessments, using the medical report already on file for the care dependency grant.

“The assessment will be done in the absence of the young person. This is provided for in the Social Assistance Act and can be implemented as there is a medical history for the applicant in Sassa’s possession.”

The minister said measures have been put in place to manage cases where a medical report cannot be traced or it did not contain adequate information for the assessing doctor to make a recommendation.

Zulu explained that assessments could start being scheduled in December, with the application being done from January for temporary disability grants beneficiaries still unable to work as a result of their disability.

She stressed that a temporary disability grant was provided for a specific period only.

“It is therefore not automatic that all those currently in receipt of the temporary disability grants will re-apply for the grant, or if they apply, that they will qualify for the grant.”

Zulu said the process would be closely managed and all exceptions would be dealt with to ensure inconvenience was limited as much as possible.