NEWS & ANALYSIS

SASSA on process for restoring lapsed temporary disability grants

Affected citizens requested to report to nearest office, with detailed referral report from doctor

SASSA on process for restoring lapsed temporary disability grants

11 January 2021

Temporary Disability Grants that were supposed to lapse from February 2020 were extended to 31 December 2020 in order to cushion affected beneficiaries against the pressures brought about by the State of National Disaster and the subsequent lockdown.   The cost of continuing to pay these grants totalled in excess of R1,5 billion. 

To have continued payment of the grants until end March 2021 would have cost an additional R1,2 billion, which funds are not available.

A disability grant may be awarded as either a permanent grant, which may or may not be subject to a medical review after a certain period of time.  Permanent disability grants are awarded for conditions which impact on the applicant’s ability to work for a period longer than 12 months.  Where the disability or medical condition is likely to improve with treatment or other interventions, the grant may be awarded for a temporary period of between 6 and 12 months. 

After this time, the grant lapses, in accordance with the conditions set in the Social Assistance Act, 2004.  If on lapsing of the grant, the citizen is still unable to be employed as a result of the disability or medical condition, he/she needs to re-apply for the grant.  This re-application requires a new medical assessment, which will confirm whether the condition does warrant a grant.

A disability grant is given, in terms of the Social Assistance Act, to citizens who are unable to work as a result of their disability or medical condition.  A disability grant is not an unemployment grant – that is, it cannot be awarded on social grounds for citizens who are unable to find employment.

At the end of December 2020, SASSA suspended a total of 210 778 disability grants nationally and 40 875 Temporary Disability Grants and 2986 Care Dependency Grants in KwaZulu-Natal, as the extended period for which they were awarded had expired.  Affected citizens are requested to report to the nearest SASSA office, with a detailed referral report from their treating doctor, which confirms the impact of the medical condition or disability.

The SASSA staff will then take the personal and contact details of the client, and contact him/her to confirm when he/she can return to the office to complete the process.  The information in the referral letter will be used to inform the SASSA doctor who is required to complete an assessment and recommend whether the grant should be awarded or not.  SASSA will after having taken all factors into account, including the medical assessment and after applying the means test, either award the grant or not.  The new award may be for a temporary or permanent period, depending on the circumstances of each applicant.

It is important for any applicant for a disability grant to be aware that if the grant is awarded for a temporary period, or not approved, that he/she has the right to request SASSA to reconsider the decision.  This must be done within 90 days of being informed of the outcome of the application.  If the reconsidered decision is still unfavourable, then the applicant has the right to appeal to the Independent Appeals Tribunal. This again must be done within 90 days of receiving the reconsidered outcome.

SASSA will continue to do everything in its power to provide services to those who need these.  All citizens and staff visiting SASSA offices will be required to adhere to COVID health protocols – no-one without a face mask will be permitted entry into the offices; the numbers of clients who will be allowed entry to the office at any one time will be limited to ensure social distancing at all times and sanitising on entry and exit will be compulsory.

The inconvenience caused by the suspension of the temporary grants, particularly at this time, is acknowledged. However, compliance to the legislation and the cost implications have informed this challenging decision.

Issued by Sandy Godlwana on behalf of SASSA, 11 January 2021