The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) is reassessing rejected applications for the COVID-19 R350 grant, which is meant to help those who are unemployed and receiving no other assistance.

The agency believes it is wise to reassess applications before subjecting them to an appeal process, which comes at a cost and delays.

SASSA said it is treating the issue as a matter of urgency, as it pushes to help the poor, who have been hit hard by the national lockdown.

Last month, SASSA said it was receiving many grievances about the declined R350 grant applications.

The agency at the time said the majority of applicants were already on the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) database or were qualifying to receive it.

“In early June, close to 50% of processed applications did not qualify, in terms of the criteria.

Over 70% of those that did not qualify were either receiving or qualifying for UIF benefits, according to the database that SASSA was using then to sift through the applications,” SASSA explained.

However, SASSA decided 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. They have been approved and are being made aware of this development individually, as and when such favourable decision is reached.”

SASSA said everyone affected would receive a 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.

Approved applicants are reminded that the link cannot be shared with others, as it is linked to a specific ID number for security reasons,” the agency stressed.

Progress made with payments

Meanwhile, more than 2.5 million applicants have already received payment from over 3.2 million individuals, who applied for the COVID-19 grant.

“Updating the UIF database has brought such a relief to us and the affected beneficiaries. The numbers will rise daily until we have paid all deserving individuals who were previously declined,” said Totsie Memela, the SASSA CEO.

She said SASSA was working with the Department of Social Development to finalise the appeals process for applicants who still feel that their applications were rejected unfairly.

The appeals function will be added to the www.srd.sassa.gov.za website as soon as the relevant framework has been approved.

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