You and Your Rights: Care Dependency Grant
- Biological parents, foster parents, and primary caregivers may apply for the Grant on behalf of disabled children in their care
- The Grant aims to ensure the well-being of disabled children whose parents otherwise lack the funds to support them
- If a beneficiary of the Care Dependency Grant, your are still eligible to receive the Foster Child Grant, but not the Child Support Grant.
- If the child of a beneficiary is cared for by a state-funded institution for more than six months, the Grant payments will stop
- No fee is required to apply for the Care Dependency Grant
The South African constitution gives children special protection. It puts the responsibility on the government to provide social assistance to children whose parents or primary caregivers are unable to support them financially. One of the ways they do this through the provision of the Care Dependency Grant
What is a Care Dependency Grant – and who is it meant to support?
The Care Dependency Grant is monthly income support to biological or foster parents, and to primary caregivers who look after children (under the age of 18) who are disabled and who require or receive permanent care or support services.
How much is the Care Dependency Grant?
The amount changes every year. From 1 April 2017 the Care Dependency Grant is R1 600 per month.
Who can apply for the Care Dependency Grant?
Parents or primary caregivers can apply for this monthly payment on behalf of the children in their care.
(A primary caregiver is anyone, other than the biological parents, who is over the age of 16 and is mainly responsible for looking after the child. They can be a family member, including a brother or sister. Where they apply for a grant for a child, they must declare under oath that they are the primary caregiver, and provide some documentary proof of this.)
Who is eligible for this grant?
All children in need of care are eligible depending on the income and national status of their parent or primary caregiver.
In terms of their income, a means test is applied to parents or primary caregivers – but not to foster parents who may access the grant no matter what they earn. In order to qualify for the grant, a single parent or caregiver may not earn more than R192 000 a year if you are single. Your combined income should not be above R384 000 a year if you are married.
To be eligible for this grant, biological parents or primary caregivers or foster parents must be South African citizens or permanent residents or refugees. They and the child must be living in South Africa. Asylum seekers, undocumented migrants and foreign nationals with visas are NOT able to access the Care Dependency Grant on behalf of children in their care.
How do they apply for a Care Dependency Grant?
All applicants can apply for a grant at their nearest SASSA (South African Social Security Agency) office. They do not pay anything to apply.
They must take a range of documents with them as applications will not be processed without these. They will need identity documents for themselves and the child and proof of their marital status, as well as a medical assessment report confirming the child’s disability. Biological parents and primary caregivers will need proof of their income. Foster parents do not need proof of income, but they must have the court order showing their foster status. (A full list of the documents is available on page 81 of the Black Sash’s Social Assistance: A reference guide for paralegals.) At the SASSA office they will be assisted to complete the forms, will be interviewed and will have their fingerprints taken.
If they cannot go to the offices themselves, a friend or family member can take letters from them (and their doctor) saying why they cannot do so. A SASSA official will then arrange to visit them at home.
Can they apply for a grant without an ID book or birth certificate?
If the applicant does not have identity documentation – or is missing some of the other necessary documents - they may still apply.
At the SASSA office they will be asked to complete and sign a form (a ‘sworn affidavit’) confirming who they, or the children, are. They will also be asked to bring an affidavit from a reputable person (like a councillor, traditional leader, social worker, priest or school principal) who can verify that they know the applicant. SASSA may also ask for other documents, like a clinic card or a school report etc.
How is the Care Dependency Grant paid to them?
When they make the application, they must say how they would like the money to be paid. They can either collect it on a specific day each month, or have it paid into a bank account. (This can be changed at any time by filling in a form at the SASSA office.)
How long does it take to start getting the Care Dependency Grant?
In some SASSA offices, applicants are told immediately whether or not they qualify for a grant. Legally SASSA has three months from the date of application to start paying a grant once it has been approved. The payments will be backdated to the date they applied for the grant.
If they are worried, an applicant can phone the free SASSA helpline: 0800 601 011 to find out what has happened to their application and when they can expect payment. This is also the number to call if you want to report social grant fraud.
Other financial support
Beneficiaries of a Care Dependency Grant may also receive a Foster Child Grant – but they may not also receive a Child Support Grant.
Once a grant has been approved, people who have not yet received any money but are in desperate need of support can apply for temporary assistance in the form of Social Relief of Distress (SRD). SRD is normally issued as a food parcel but can also be a voucher or cash payment. (Where money has been paid, this will be deducted from the grant money they eventually receive.)
Do they need to renew the Care Dependency Grant?
No. To check if the parent or primary caregiver is still eligible for the grant SASSA sends beneficiaries an annual registered letter asking them to provide up-to-date information about their current financial circumstances.
However, if a beneficiary’s financial circumstances improve before SASSA sends them this letter, they must let SASSA know. They must also inform SASSA of any other changes in their or the child's circumstances. Receiving a grant when a person is not eligible for one is fraud.
When do the Care Dependency Grant payments stop?
Even if a parent or caregiver is still financially eligible, payment will stop when the child turns 18 (when they may become eligible for a Disability Grant).
The grant will be stopped if the child is admitted to a state-funded institution for over six months. It will also be suspended if the court order authorising a fostering relationship, or the identity documents of any refugee, expire. And it will be cancelled if the child dies.