Sassa to review rejected Covid-19 grant applications
The SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) has decided to reassess declined Covid-19 grant applications and review the reasons why they were rejected.
In a statement on Tuesday, Sassa spokesperson Paseka Letsatsi said the high numbers of rejections raised questions. Letsatsi said the agency decided it would be wise to reconsider these before subjecting them to an appeal process.
“It comes at a cost and resultant delays, given the urgency to pay out the grant during these trying times for poor people impacted negatively by the national shutdown,” Letsatsi said.
This comes as government announced social relief measures in the form of a grant to be given to unemployed citizens and foreign citizens for the duration of the lockdown.
According to Sassa’s criteria, to qualify for the grant one must be above the age of 18 and must either be unemployed, without any income or not receiving any kind of government assistance from the Unemployment Insurance Fund, National Student Financial Aid Scheme or any other financial support.
“In early June close to 50% of processed applications did not qualify in terms of the criteria. More than 70% of those that did not qualify were either receiving or qualifying for UIF benefits according to the database Sassa 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. Out of this reconsideration process it emerged that 85% of the UIF cases which were previously deemed not to be qualifying, actually qualify,” Letsatsi said.
Letsatsi said those cases had now been approved and are being made aware of this development individually as and when a 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,” said Letsatsi.
Sassa CEO Totsie Memela said updating the UIF database had brought relief to the department and the affected beneficiaries.
“The numbers will rise daily until we have paid all deserving individuals who were previously declined,” said Memela.
Memela said Sassa was working with the social development department to “finalise the modalities” of the appeals process for applicants who felt their applications were unfairly rejected.
Out of more than 3.2 million people who applied for the Covid-19 grant, more than 2.5 million applicants had been paid so far.