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SASSA gives rejected COVID-19 grant applicants a ‘lifeline’

Read time 2min 30sec

The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) has switched to an updated database to determine the applicants that qualify for the COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant.

This, says SASSA, comes after discovering that the high number of rejections raised questions, and so the agency decided to reconsider before subjecting them to an appeal process.

According to SASSA, last month, close to 50% of processed applications did not qualify in terms of the criteria, with over 70% of those that did not qualify either receiving or qualifying for Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) benefits based on the database it was using then to sift through the applications.

Subsequently, SASSA took a decision to request an updated database to reconsider the declined UIF cases instead of advising the aggrieved applicants to follow the appeals route, it says.

“Out of this reconsideration process it emerged that 85% of the UIF cases, which were previously deemed not to be qualifying, actually qualify. They have been approved and are being made aware of this development individually as and when such favourable decision is reached.

“Everyone affected will receive an SMS requesting them to provide their banking details. It is important to respond to the SMS as quickly as possible and to follow the link provided. Approved applicants are reminded that the link cannot be shared with others, as it is linked to a specific ID number for security reasons.”

SASSA has encountered some challenges in disbursing the COVID-19 SDR grants, most notably delays in issuing payments. For example, May payments are still in progress.

Government introduced the R350 relief grant in a bid to provide financial support to some unemployed South Africans during the COVID-19 lockdown. This is to ensure unemployed persons receive R350 for six months, from May to October.

Targeted at the unemployed, only South African citizens, permanent residents or refugees registered on the home affairs system are eligible to receive the social relief grant.

More than two-and-a-half million applicants have already been paid so far from over 3.2 million who applied for the COVID-19 grant, says SASSA CEO Totsie Memela.

“Updating the UIF database has brought such a relief to us and the affected beneficiaries; the numbers will rise daily until we have paid all deserving individuals who were previously declined.”

Memela adds that SASSA is working with the Department of Social Development to finalise the modalities of the appeals process for applicants who still feel that their applications were rejected unfairly.

“The appeals function will be added to the www.srd.sassa.gov.za Web site as soon as the relevant framework has been approved.”

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