The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) has urged people to send through their appeals after experiencing an increased number of rejected applications for the R350 COVID-19 grant.

According to the agency, this is attributed to several factors such as discrepancies in details provided by beneficiaries and information derived from institutions such as the Unemployment Insurance Fund and South African Revenue Service databases.

Meanwhile, SASSA said it saw another spike in declined applications in August after it introduced an additional step in the form of a means test. 

“This was done to ensure that the requirement for applicants to have no income was met,” SASSA explained.

However, following engagement with the Department of Social Development, parties agreed to reconsider the use of the means test through the banks as a criterion to determine eligibility. 

“This will affect the approximately 1.9 million people, who have been receiving the grant to date but who were declined in August,” SASSA said.

The agency said the legal framework that supports the reconsideration of the use of a means test is being amended by the department and will be published soon.

“These amendments will clarify the qualifying criteria and support SASSA in ensuring that deserving citizens do receive the support they are entitled to for the duration of this grant.”

An Auditor-General (AG) report recently identified about 30 000 undeserving applicants, who received the grant while not meeting the qualifying criteria.  

“In response to this finding, SASSA reviewed and strengthened its controls with regard to the evaluation of applications,” the agency said.

SASSA said applications are now considered on their merits on a month-to-month basis, meaning that an application can be approved for one month and rejected the following month if, for instance, their financial situation changed. 

“This has become more prevalent with the lockdown levels easing, allowing for some sectors of the economy to return to work, and thus reducing the number of severely distressed citizens.”

However, despite the reduced levels of lockdown, SASSA said it was cognisant that the pandemic has taken its toll and many people are still without an income. 

“All applicants whose applications are declined have the right to appeal against the decision,” SASSA said, adding that it is currently dealing with about 60 000 appeals. 

SASSA is encouraging people to send their appeals to covid19srdappeals@sassa.gov.za

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