The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) says the suspension of 210,778 disability grants nationally, and 40,875 temporary disability and 2986 care dependency grants in KwaZulu-Natal, is a result of compliance to legislation and the cost implications.
This was in response to DA shadow minister of social development Bridget Masango, who has criticised the Department of Social Development for not extending the deadline for disability grant reassessments to March 2021.
The party said it would write to the chair of the parliamentary portfolio committee on social development, Mondli Gungubele, to urgently request a meeting in which Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu must provide a guarantee that the grant reassessment deadlines would be extended at least until March 2021.
According to Sassa, temporary disability grants that were supposed to lapse from February 2020 were extended to 31 December, costing government at least R1.5 billion.
To continue payment of the grants until March 2021 would have cost an additional R1.2 billion, which is not available, explained Sassa on Monday.
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.
Sassa says a disability grant may be awarded as 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 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 six 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 reapply for the grant. This reapplication requires a new medical assessment, which will confirm whether the condition does warrant a grant,” explained Sassa.
If the grant is awarded for a temporary period, or not approved, the applicant can request Sassa to reconsider the decision within 90 days of being informed of the outcome of the application.
If the reconsidered decision is still unfavourable, the applicant can appeal to the Independent Appeals Tribunal 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. 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.”
Compiled by Vhahangwele Nemakonde