Social Relief of Distress: Bridging Gaps in Times of Need
The COVID-19 pandemic might feel like a distant memory, but the truth is that its financial impact continues to echo in the lives of many South Africans, with many relying on the social relief of distress grant to survive. One of the most stressful consequences of the pandemic has been the toll it has taken on individuals employed in low-wage jobs. According to a study by the UCT Liberty Institute, as of March 2021, there were nearly 1.15 million fewer people earning incomes from jobs paying less than R3,500 per month. Sadly, the situation has not improved since then; in fact, it has worsened.
What Is The Social Relief Of Distress Grant?
In May 2020, the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) launched the R350 Social Relief Distress Grant as part of a comprehensive R500 billion economic and social relief package. This grant, known as the SASSA Social Relief of Distress Grant, was introduced to provide assistance to consumers who suffered financial losses due to COVID-19. The aim of this initiative was to strengthen the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Initially, the social relief grant was designed to provide a six-month safety net for South Africans facing dire circumstances. However, the need for this assistance has persisted, and as a result, it has been continually renewed since December 2020 to provide social relief to distressed South Africans who find themselves under financial strain.
The SASSA social relief grant is now providing interim assistance to those facing financial difficulty. It offers support to individuals who cannot meet their own or their families’ essential needs for up to three months.
Who Qualifies For The Social Relief Of Distress Grant?
To qualify for the Social Relief of Distress grant, individuals must meet one of the following conditions:
- Awaiting Permanent Aid: If you are awaiting permanent assistance, you may be eligible for this grant to provide temporary relief.
- Desperate Situation: If you find yourself in a desperate financial situation and do not meet the criteria for other social grants, you may qualify for this form of relief.
- Medical Unfitness: Individuals who are medically unfit to engage in remunerative work for less than 6 months due to health reasons may be eligible for the SASSA social grant.
- Breadwinner’s Death: If the breadwinner of your family has passed away, leaving the household without a source of income, you may qualify for assistance.
- Breadwinner’s Temporary Incarceration: In cases where the breadwinner has been sent to prison for a short duration, less than 6 months, leaving the family without financial support, you may be eligible for this grant.
- No Existing Social Assistance: If you are not a member of a household already receiving social assistance, you can apply for the Social Relief of Distress grant.
- Unreceived Maintenance Payments: Individuals who are supposed to receive maintenance payments but are not receiving them due to non-payment by the responsible person and cannot locate that person may be eligible for this grant.
- No Assistance from Other Organisations: If you are not currently receiving assistance from any other organisation or source, you may qualify for this grant.
- Disaster Victims: People and communities impacted by disasters like fires and floods, as described in the Disaster Management Act 57 of 2002, may also qualify for this relief to assist them in dealing with the consequences of these events.
Step-By-Step Guide on How to Apply for the Social Relief of Distress Grant
Applying for the Social Relief of Distress grant in South Africa can be a lifeline for those facing challenging financial circumstances. This step-by-step guide will walk you through the process to ensure you can access the much needed social relief of distress:
Step 1: Prepare the Required Documents
Before applying, make sure you have the necessary documents ready. These include:
- Your bar-coded identity document.
- Birth certificates of your children, if applicable.
- If you do not have an identity document or birth certificate, you will need to provide alternative proof, which may include:
- An affidavit commissioned by a Justice of the Peace. The affidavit must contain a clause indicating the consequences of providing incorrect information, as outlined in Section 21 of the Social Assistance Act, 2004.
- A reliable statement from someone you and your child know well and trust. This person could be a counsellor, religious minister, social worker, or traditional leader.
- Proof that you have applied for a birth certificate or identity document with the Department of Home Affairs.
- If applicable, a temporary identity document issued by the Department of Home Affairs.
- Other documents that may be considered as proof, such as a road to health clinic card, baptismal certificate or a school report.
It’s crucial to note that your application cannot be processed without the required sworn statement or affidavit.
Step 2: Visit Your Nearest SASSA Office or Website
To initiate the application process, either visit your nearest South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) office in person or access the online application portal at https://srd.sassa.gov.za/.
Step 3: Submit Your Application for the Social Relief of Distress Grant
When you visit the SASSA office or use the online portal, submit your application along with the relevant documents. Ensure that all information provided is accurate and complete.
Step 4: Alternative Proof for Missing Documents
If you don’t possess any official form of identification, such as a birth certificate or an identity document, you have the option to submit an affidavit from a council member, religious leader, community leader, or local police station as an alternative means of verifying your situation. This affidavit should clearly outline your circumstances and explain why you require social relief due to distress.
Step 5: Wait for Processing
Once you have submitted your application and documents, SASSA will review your case. The processing time may vary, so be patient during this stage.
Step 6: Follow Up
If necessary, follow up with SASSA to check the status of your application. You can inquire about the progress at your local SASSA office or through their official communication channels.
Step 7: Receive Decision
Once your application has been processed, you will receive a decision regarding your eligibility for the Social Relief of Distress grant. If approved, you will be informed of the next steps for receiving assistance. Remember to regularly check your social relief grant status on the SASSA website to see if your application has been approved.
Social Relief Of Distress: Important Factors Note
You’ll still get your first month’s food parcel, voucher, or cash, even if you don’t have all the necessary documents. However, it’s essential to furnish all necessary documents before the second month’s payment is due to avoid potential disruptions in receiving assistance. If your circumstances remain unchanged after receiving the grant for three months, you can apply to extend it for an additional three months.
How Has The Government Contributed To Social Grants?
Social grants in South Africa play a pivotal in the country’s economy, particularly in the lives of poorer communities. The household survey data collected by the University of Johannesburg Centre for Social Development in Africa revealed that a staggering 47% of its population relies on monthly grants for their livelihoods. Among these beneficiaries, 18 million receive permanent grants, while an additional 10 million depend on the temporary Social Relief of Distress Grant, a lifeline introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additionally, while many have called for a social grant increase in the R350 social relief of distress grant, 31% of grant beneficiaries actively participate in informal work, which includes jobs without written contracts or businesses not registered for taxation. These activities encompass informal trading, self-employment, and care work. In 2021, the likelihood of grant beneficiaries participating in informal work exceeded formal employment by 13%. Notably, child support grant beneficiaries were most likely to engage in survival-oriented business activities, followed by recipients of the Social Relief of Distress grant and old-age pensioners.
Social Relief Of Distress And The Role Of National Debt Advisors
While social relief of distress grants provide crucial support, they may not always suffice to alleviate the burden of debt and financial stress. The high unemployment rate, coupled with rising living costs, has left a significant portion of the population grappling with debt-related issues.
This financial stress highlights the importance of accessible debt advisory services, which can play a pivotal role in helping individuals navigate their financial challenges effectively. At National Debt Advisors, we have helped thousands of South Africans effectively deal with their debt burden.
As seasoned professionals, we at National Debt Advisors are well-equipped to assist individuals in managing their debts, negotiating with creditors, and creating sustainable financial plans. They can provide essential guidance on debt consolidation, budgeting, and debt repayment strategies tailored to one’s unique circumstances.
If you are overwhelmed by your monthly debt obligations, we urge you not to suffer in silence, even if you do not qualify for the social relief of distress grant. Reach out to National Debt Advisors and explore the possibilities of debt relief and financial empowerment.