23 May 2008
From the beginning of June, the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) will accept social grant applications from eligible applicants who are having trouble getting official identity documents and birth certificates.
As stipulated in the regulations of 2005, Sassa will accept sworn affidavits deposed to before a commissioner of oaths testifying to, amongst other details, the names, age, parentage of the child and any other applicant.
Although this policy shift was initially designed to accommodate applicants for the child support grant, the Department of Social Development has made a policy decision to extend its implementation to all grant types.
“The IT systems of Sassa will be ready to accept applications from 1 June this year,” said Social Development Minister Zola Skweyiya following a meeting with provincial social development ministers at Sun City in the North West province.
“People who apply before 1 June will be able to receive social relief of distress while waiting for 1 June starting date.”
The value of the social relief of distress, in the form of a cash amount, would leave applicants in the same position they would have been had they applied for the grant with a valid ID.
The benefit will be for people who apply for the child support, care dependency and foster care grants, provided they meet the eligibility and means test criteria.
The relief is aimed at people awaiting an ID document or birth certificate and those pleading that poverty prevents them from applying for such identification documents, and as a consequence prevents them from accessing social security.
“If applicants apply today, they will get social relief of distress, but within a month, we will be able to covert it to a full application and register the application as such and continue providing the benefit for as long as the eligibility criteria are met,” said Sassa CEO Fezile Makiwane. “We will however work with the applicant and the Department of Home Affairs to expedite the processing of applications for identity documents.”
Skweyiya added that as the department intensified efforts to eradicate poverty, the government would review the means test for the child support grant and it would no longer distinguish the means test threshold between rural or urban beneficiaries.
“This will gradually be applied to other grant types,” he said. “Details of the commencement of this will be elaborated on in my budget vote speech on the 30th of May.”