SASSA explains high number of rejections for the R350 grant

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  • ... there have been 11.3 million applicants. But only 5.2 million people qualified.
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The SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) says that the high number of rejections for the R350 social distress of relief (SRD) grant is because it has “refined qualifying criteria” to target those most in need.

Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu set the means test at R350 a month, meaning that anyone with income higher than that, including support from a family member, could not qualify for the grant.

It also applied a stricter screening of applications, including cross-checking bank accounts. The intention of the new approach was to target the poorest of the poor, rather than the unemployed in general.

In response to questions, Sassa said on Wednesday that “qualifying criteria have been refined, by adding in the requirement that the applicants must have insufficient means. This implies that the major qualifying criteria is not only that the applicant must be unemployed, and meet the legislated criteria, but that the applicant’s financial support is assessed”.

This is done through a proxy means test, by considering any inflow into the applicant’s bank account.

Sassa said:

“The additional measure is intended to exclude married applicants who have employed spouses who are in a position to financially support them, or full-time learners or students whose parents are in a financial position to support them if they are not supported through NSFAS.”

Last week, Zulu published draft regulations to raise the means test to R624, which is the level of the food poverty line.

Since the latest iteration of the grant started on 1 April, there have been 11.3 million applicants. But only 5.2 million people qualified. This is compared to 10.5 million people in the last iteration of the grant where a higher income threshold of R624 was applied.

Sassa said that as a result of the low approval rate, discussions were held with the Department of Social Development, to reconsider the threshold of R350. With the threshold being applied for the first time at this scale, projections had indicated that approximately eight million applicants would qualify.

The outcome where only 46% of applicants have been approved, has suggested that the threshold of R350 may be too low, thus excluding many people who should receive the support.

Sassa said that if the draft regulations are accepted, the threshold of R624 would be implemented going forward. – Fin24


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