You and Your Rights: War Veterans’ Grant

You and Your Rights: War Veterans’ Grant

Summary

  • The Grant is specifically for veterans of the First World War, the Second World War, or the Korean War
  • Beneficiaries of the War Veterans’ Grant may not simultaneously receive an Older Person’s Grant or a Disability Grant
  • In order to qualify for the Grant, you must be at least sixty years of age and/or otherwise unable to support yourself due to disability
  • The Grant may not be inherited by relatives or dependants
  • Individuals formerly involved in the struggle for democracy are ineligible for the Grant but may apply for support from the Special Pension Fund

Your Rights

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 War Veterans’ Grant.

What is a War Veterans’ Grant – and who is it meant to support?

The War Veterans’ Grant is monthly income support for people in need who served in the First World War (1914-1918) and/or the Second World War (1939-1945) and/or the Korean War (1950-1953).

People involved in any other conflict are not eligible for this grant – although those who were active in the recent struggle for democracy in the country may access financial support from the Special Pension. For more information on this, phone the Government Employees’ Pension Fund at 0807 723 646 (toll free)

How much is the War Veterans’ Grant?

The amount of the grant changes every year.  From 1 April 2013, the maximum grant amount is R1 260 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 War Veterans’ Grant?

In addition to having been active in any of the three wars above, a person must

  • be 60 years or older; or owing to a disability be unable to support themselves; and
  • be a South African citizen or permanent resident living in South Africa; and
  • have assets and income that meet the means test for being ‘in need’ (see below)

A person is not eligible if they are cared for by an institution wholly funded by the state – e.g. a home for older persons, a psychiatric hospital, a 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 (R49 920 per year); and R8 320 a month for married people (R99840 per annum) .

How do they apply for a War Veterans’ Grant?

War veterans 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, proof of their marital status and of their war service, and of their (joint) income and the value of their assets. (A full list of the documents is available on page 115 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. 

Who can apply for the War Veterans’ 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 War Veterans’ 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 War Veterans’ 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 War Veterans’ 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 a Disability Grant or an Older Person’s Grant, however.

Urgent support

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 War Veterans’ Grant?

While War Veterans’ Grants do not have to be renewed, SASSA checks if beneficiaries are still eligible for their grants by sending beneficiaries annual registered letters asking for up-to-date information about their finances.  (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 War Veterans’ Grant payments stop?

The War Veterans’ Grant will lapse if the beneficiary is admitted to a state-funded institution for over six months. It will be cancelled when they die as grants cannot be inherited by anyone.