You and Your Rights: Disability 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 says that ‘everyone has the right to have access to social security including, if they are unable to support themselves and their dependants, appropriate social assistance’ (Sec 27(1c)). One of the ways the government meets this responsibility is through the provision of a Disability Grant.
What is a Disability Grant – and who is it meant to support?
The Disability Grant is monthly income support for adults who are in financial need and who have a disability which prevents them from being able to support themselves.
How much is the Disability Grant?
The amount changes every year. From 1 April 2014 the maximum amount of Older Person’s Grant is R1 350 per month. But this is calculated on a sliding scale, so that the more someone earns, the less they will get from the grant.
Who is eligible for the Disability Grant?
To be eligible for a Disability Grant, the applicant must:
- have a medical assessment which is no less than three months old which confirms they have a disability in terms of the Social Assistance Act; and
- be between 18 and 59 years old; and
- be a South African citizen, a permanent resident or a refugee living in South Africa; and
- have assets and income that qualify them for being ‘in need’ (see means test below).
They will not qualify if they refuse to undergo medical treatment or do any work that they could do; or are cared for by an institution wholly funded by the state – e.g. an old age home, psychiatric hospital, prison, or a treatment centre.
In terms of being ‘in need’, both the assets and income of the applicant and their spouse are assessed through a means test to see if they qualify. For 2012, the asset threshold (maximum value of what they own) was R792 000 for a single person and R1,584,000 for married people. And the income threshold was a maximum of R4 160 a month for a single person (R47 400b per year); and R8 320 a month for married people
How do they apply for a Disability 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.
At the SASSA office they will be assisted to complete the forms, will be interviewed and will have their fingerprints taken.
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 their spouse and proof of their marital status, as well as a medical assessment report confirming their disability. They will also need proof of their (joint) income, and of the value of their assets. (A full list of the documents is available on page 98 of the Black Sash’s Social Assistance: A reference guide for paralegals.)
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 are. They will also be asked to bring an affidavit from a reputable person (like a councillor, traditional leader, social worker or priest) who can verify that they know the applicant.
Conditions of the grant
A doctor, authorised by the state, will assess if the disability is expected to be temporary (between six months and a year) or permanent (more than a year).
(People with conditions that are likely to last less than six months do not qualify for a Disability Grant, but may apply for a Social Relief of Distress award.)
Who can apply for the Disability Grant
If the applicant cannot go to the SASSA 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. In addition, if they need someone to act for them permanently – especially to collect their grant - they may appoint a ‘procurator’ who must sign a form agreeing to do this honourably.
How is the Disability 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 Disability 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
People receiving a Disability Grant may also receive the Grant-in-Aid if the applicant cannot look after themselves and needs regular care at home. They may not also receive an Older Person’s Grant or a War Veterans’ Grant, however.
Depending on how the person became disabled, they could also receive benefits from the Road Accident Fund (RAF), the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) or Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Fund (COIDF).
A permanent Disability Grant may be provided until their 60th birthday, at which point by SASSA’s electronic system will convert it to an Older Person’s 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 Disability Grant?
Temporary Disability Grants lapse after a year. If the applicant is still disabled, they must apply again by submitting a new application with another medical examination.
While permanent Disability Grants do not have to be renewed, SASSA checks if beneficiaries are still eligible for their grants by sending out annual registered letters asking for up-to-date information about their finances – and may also require that they have another medical assessment. (If a beneficiary’s circumstances improve before SASSA sends them this letter, they must let SASSA know. Receiving a grant when a person is not eligible for one is fraud.
When do Disability Grant payments stop?
The Disability Grant will lapse if the beneficiary’s refugee status lapses and it may be suspended if they are admitted to a state-funded institution for over six months. It will be cancelled if a medical assessment finds they are no longer ‘disabled’ – or if they die.