Summary of the Social Assistance Act, no. 13 of 2004
According to the Act, the State must make money available for the following grants:
- A child support grant
- A care dependency grant
- A foster child grant
- A disability grant
- An older person’s grant
- A war veteran’s grant, and
- A grant-in-aid.
 Who Can Apply for a Social Grant?
Some of the laws for grant eligibility change from year to year (e.g. the age of a child in need of care, the amount that beneficiaries earn) because they will depend on changing conditions (like how much money the State has available and who has the most need). Likewise, the amount allocated to each grant changes every year. For up-to-date information on the grant amounts, see the services website: http://www.services.gov.za
In some cases, the State stipulates that a person may not receive more than one grant at a time, but this may change. The laws listed below are permanent and fixed:
|Grant||Who Can Get this Grant?|
|Child Support Grant||The primary care giver of a child may receive a child support grant for that child if they meet the State’s requirements in terms of age limits and income threshold.|
|Care Dependency Grant||If a child has a physical or mental disability and needs permanent support and care, then the parent or primary care giver or foster parent is eligible for a grant. However, if the child is cared for in a state institution on a 24-hour basis for a period of more than 6 months, then the caregiver is not eligible for a grant. The applicant must also meet the State’s requirements in terms of age limits and income threshold.|
|Foster Child Grant||A registered foster parent is entitled to a grant for as long as the foster child needs care. The applicant must also be the parent of a child of a certain age and must earn not earn more than a specified amount of money.|
|Disability Grant||All adults with physical or mental disabilities, who cannot support themselves because their disability prevents them from getting employment, are eligible for disability grants. The applicant must be old enough and must also not earn more than a specified amount of money.|
|Older Persons’ Grant||Any woman who is 60 years or older, and any man who is 65 years or older, who meets the State’s requirements in terms of income threshold, is eligible for an Older Persons’ Grant.|
|War Veterans’ Grant||Any person who is 60 years or older who cannot earn a living because of a physical or mental disability, who is not maintained by a State institution and who served in the First (1914–1918) or Second World War (1939–1945) or in the Korean War (1950–1953).|
 What Are the Laws for Applying for a Grant?
Any person has the right to apply for a social grant, but they must follow the correct procedure. The Social Security Agency (governed by the Social Security Agency Act) has the right to investigate the applicant and to ask for further information before deciding whether the person should receive a grant. In investigating, the State may summon or subpoena any person who has relevant information on the applicant’s circumstances to appear before it. The State can also ask any financial institutions (e.g. banks and investment organisations) to supply information about the person’s financial situation.
 What Happens if You Don’t Get a Grant?
It is a criminal offence to include false information in an application. If a person receives a social grant because they falsified information on their application, any money paid to them will have to be paid back to the State (unless they can prove that they did not know that they were not entitled to the money).
 What Happens if You Do Get a Grant?
If a person is eligible for a grant, the State must provide it to the person. The grant cannot be transferred or pledged to another person in any way, nor can any third party make a claim against a grant. (This means that if a recipient owes money to someone, the money cannot automatically be taken from the grant.) A grant recipient may appoint somebody to collect the grant for them. This person is called a procurator. If a person in need of social assistance cannot collect the grant and cannot nominate a procurator, the State will nominate an adult person or welfare organisation to collect it on their behalf.
 Abuse of Grants
If the State suspects that a social grant is being abused in any way (i.e. the funds are not being used for their intended purpose), they have the right to investigate and suspend the grant. If, for example, it is found that grants for children are not being used for the benefit of the child, or in cases where caregivers are convicted of abuse or neglect, the State may suspend the grant or appoint another person to receive the grant on behalf of the child.
 Who Monitors the Use and Abuse of Grants?
The Inspectorate for Social Assistance is a special body that investigates and monitors the social assistance system. It makes sure that money meant for social grants is being used correctly and is reaching the relevant beneficiaries. It is also responsible for setting up an effective complaints system. The Inspectorate has certain powers to enable it to do its job. These include the right to request information from an organ of State or financial institution and the right to subpoena or summons a person who may hold relevant information.
- It is an offence to obstruct the work of the State in administering social assistance
- It is an offence to refuse to comply with a requirement of the State (e.g. failing to appear when subpoenaed.
- It is an offence to include false information in a grant application form.
Penalties for breaking any of the laws of this Act are high (up to 15 years’ imprisonment)!