You and Your Rights: Social Grant Lapses, Reviews, Suspensions, and Cancellations
- Grants will lapse due to the death of the recipient, a failure to collect payment for three months, or any other grant-specific circumstances
- A beneficiary may appeal a grant that has been suspended due to change in financial, health, or documentation status, but a lapsed grant may not be appealed
- Beneficiaries must inform SASSA of any improvements in health status or financial circumstances
- The beneficiary must be notified 90 days before his or her grant is subject to be reviewed, and is responsible for providing any necessary documents within that period
- A grant suspension notice and explanation will automatically turn into a grant cancellation if the beneficiary makes no representation
Section 27 of the Constitution:
“Everyone has the right to have access to social security, including, if they are unable to support themselves and their dependants, appropriate social assistance. The state must take reasonable legislative and other measures, within its available resources, to achieve the progressive realisation of each of these rights”
While every attempt has been made to ensure the information published here is accurate, the Black Sash does not take responsibility for any loss or damage that may arise out of the reliance on or use of this information. The contents do not constitute legal advice. This information sheet was last updated in February 2013.
When does a grant lapse?
A grant lapses when the SASSA system automatically stops paying it, based on the condition of the award (which is included in the original award letter).
A grant may lapse
- On the last day of the month in which the beneficiary dies (as grants cannot be inherited);
- If the beneficiary has not collected the grant for a period of three consecutive months.
- And, each grant may lapse under circumstances particular to that individual grant (for example, when a child receiving the Child Support Grant turns 18).
Can you appeal against a lapsed grant?
NO! Grants that have lapsed cannot be appealed and SASSA is not required to send any written notification prior to lapsing the grant
When does SASSA review grants?
SASSA regularly reviews the INCOME, HEALTH STATUS and/or DOCUMENTATION of beneficiaries to check they are still eligible for their grant(s).
A beneficiary could become ineligible for a grant following a change in their circumstances, or where they have failed to provide SASSA with the correct information or documents. When people are found to no longer be eligible, their grant will be suspended. Also, a grant can be suspended if it was granted in error.
Where a grant is suspended, the beneficiary has the right to make representation to SASSA.
All beneficiaries are required to prove they are still alive and thus entitled to receive a grant.
Either they must provide finger or palm prints at the grant pay point, or they must provide a life certificate once a year. If a beneficiary is asked to produce a life certificate, the grant will be suspended if they don’t comply within 30 days.
Changes in income
Changes in income must be declared during the annual assessment of income. This is when SASSA sends the beneficiary a registered letter asking about their current financial circumstances.
This is so that SASSA can be sure that the person’s means are still below the threshold for the grant they are getting.
Where someone’s means have increased, they may either become completely ineligible – in which case the grant will be suspended – or it may mean they are eligible to receive a grant of a lesser amount (in the case of grants for adults).
SASSA will investigate where it suspects there has been a change in the financial circumstances of the beneficiary.
Changes in health status
Where the health of a person receiving a permanent Disability Grant improves (due to a medical procedure, for instance) they must inform SASSA, as they may no longer be considered ‘disabled’ and the grant may need to be suspended. In these cases, failure to report the improvement could be considered fraud.
In addition to voluntary declarations, SASSA also requires that beneficiaries of grants which support those who are disabled (like the Disability Grant and the Care Dependency Grant) have medical assessments from time to time. This is to confirm that their condition still meets the criteria for the grant.
In cases where a beneficiary’s condition cannot be expected to change (for example where there is severe mental retardation), SASSA may request an administrative review to confirm that the financial circumstances are still the same, but is not likely to request a medical review.
Changes in documentation
SASSA will also review the circumstances of people whose grants were given subject to documents being valid. This applies particularly to the refugee identity documents and foster care court orders, both of which expire after a certain time and must be renewed in order for the beneficiaries to continue to receive the grants.
This condition can also apply to beneficiaries who have received grants on the basis of alternative documentation. SASSA requires that they provide proof of having applied for formal documentation from Home Affairs within three months of receiving their first grant payment. As this is not formally in the regulations, however, SASSA uses its discretion, but this may include suspending the grant.
Grant approved in error
If a grant was approved and granted in error, SASSA will suspend or cancel the grant – and the beneficiary who received the money in error will have to pay back any money they received.
If the beneficiary can prove that they received the money without knowing that they were not entitled to the grant, however, a submission may be made to the Minister to remit the debt – that is, they would not be expected to pay back the money given in error.
How does the review process work?
- SASSA must give a beneficiary 90 days’ written notice of their intention to review their grant – which may be an assessment of income or of health, or a review of documentation.
- In this review notice, they must ask the beneficiary to provide the information they need in order to decide to either continue or suspend the grant. The beneficiary must provide the necessary information within the 90 days. If they don’t submit the information asked for, or if the information provided is not acceptable to SASSA, the beneficiary will be given 90 days’ notice of SASSA’s intention to suspend the grant.
- This written notice must give the reason for the suspension and the date on which it will be suspended. It should be delivered by hand or sent by registered post.
- During this 90-day period, the beneficiary has the right to make representation to SASSA and to provide reasons as to why the grant should not be suspended. If the beneficiary does not make representation, the grant will automatically be cancelled. If the beneficiary disagrees with the decision, they may ask SASSA to reconsider.
For more information, you can phone the free SASSA helpline: 0800 601 011.