Applications for temporary South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) disability and care dependency grants opened this week, with beneficiaries making their way to local offices to apply as grants lapsed on 31 December.
Temporary disability grant beneficiaries, who felt that their medical condition still prevented them from working, were advised to visit their nearest Sassa office from 5 January 2021 to reapply, reports The Citizen.
“It must be understood that this is not a review process, but a new application, as temporary disability grants are awarded for a specific period only.”
Sassa said last year that caregivers of children whose care dependency grants would have lapsed on 31 December were also requested to visit Sassa local offices from 5 January 2021 to apply for disability grants for the young adults.
They are not required to bring the children to the Sassa offices, but should complete the application process as proxy for them.
“Both the above categories of beneficiaries are requested to bring along clinical records pertaining to the medical conditions of applicants when applying,” it said.
In both application processes, beneficiaries are requested to submit clinical records pertaining to the medical conditions in question.
All Covid-19 precautionary measures would continue to be observed at all times and Sassa would endeavour to limit the time applicants had to spend waiting in queues.
Courtesy letters informing beneficiaries of the lapsing of their social grants have already been posted and affected beneficiaries have been requested to respond to these letters as soon as possible, said Sassa.
Meanwhile, DA shadow minister of social development Bridget Masango has criticised the Department of Social Development for not extending the deadline for disability grant reassessments to March 2021.
The failure to extend the deadline would now force vulnerable beneficiaries out of their homes to undergo these assessments, argues Masango.
According to Masango, Minister Lindiwe Zulu stated in a reply to a DA parliamentary question that such an extension would be too expensive, at an estimated cost of R1.2 billion.
“We reject this excuse as it further demonstrates the ANC-led governments misguided fiscal priorities. The ANC has been more than willing to shift over R10.5 billion to bail out the failing SAA [South African Airways], whilst being simultaneously frugal on necessities such as vaccines and disability grants which would directly improve the lives of ordinary South Africans,” said Masango.
As a result, the DA said it would write to the chair of the parliamentary ortfolio committee on social development, Mondli Gungubele, to urgently request a meeting in which Zulu should explain how her department intended to handle the disability grant crisis, and to provide a guarantee that the grant reassessment deadlines would be extended at least until March 2021.
“It is Parliament’s duty to hold the Minister to account and since it is people’s lives and livelihoods at stake, we cannot wait for Parliament to start its normal business in February. The chair must act now and summon Minister Zulu.”
Additional reporting by Zululand Observer