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Relief in sight for over 200k Sassa disability grant applicants

Sassa officials told Parliament they expect all the medical assessments to be completed by the end of March, after bringing more doctors on board to conduct them.

A South African Social Security Agency office in Pretoria. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/EWN

CAPE TOWN - There is some relief in sight for more than 200,000 people who are reapplying for temporary disability grants after they lapsed in December.

The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) on Wednesday said that people waiting for the required medical assessments to be done could apply for temporary relief of R500 a month for a maximum of two months.

Sassa officials told Parliament that they expected all the medical assessments to be completed by the end of March, after bringing more doctors on board to conduct them.

The agency has come under fire for poor planning, leading to long queues and little social distancing at its offices.

Sassa has briefed Parliament’s Social Development portfolio committee on what it is doing to manage the long queues and people desperate for financial assistance after their temporary disability grants lapsed.

The agency’s Dianne Dunkerley said that just over 16,000 of the most vulnerable of the 210,000 recipients of temporary disability grants had been automatically reinstated, including people aged 59, at a cost of R98 million – and some relief for others.

“We will provide limited social relief to those temporary disability grant clients while they’re waiting for a (medical) assessment. This will be R500 per person per month to be paid into the account into which they received their grant; however, it will require an application so that we comply with the legislative requirements for social relief.”

Dunkerley said that due to COVID-19, access to medical facilities for records and assessments was limited while the closure of community halls used as service points in the Western Cape meant that Sassa offices came under extra pressure.

“One of the things we are doing is looking at engaging the local authority to see how many of the community halls can be reopened, for us to re-establish those service points and thereby reduce overcrowding at local (Sassa) offices.”

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