Cape Town – The SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) has approached the provincial government to help expedite its current disability grant backlog, which affects about 20000 potential beneficiaries nationwide.
With the Covid-19 pandemic having delayed the processing of applications, Sassa provincial spokesperson Shivani Wahab said they are sourcing additional doctors.
At present, the Western Cape has nine doctors who conduct medical assessments to determine whether a beneficiary qualifies for the grant.
“Sassa has a dependency on the Department of Health to identify and utilise suitable venues for these medical assessments. We can confirm that we have engaged the provincial Department of Health on the resumption of disability grant services and the urgency of the eradication of the current backlog.
“For our outlying offices in the West Coast, Eden Karoo and Boland-Overberg districts, these venues for medical assessments have already been identified. The disruption caused by the lapsing of the temporary disability grants is sincerely regretted,” said Wahab.
In reply to a DA parliamentary question at the weekend, Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu said that nearly 20000 new and renewed Sassa disability grant beneficiaries are currently on waiting lists to see an assessment doctor nationally.
Disability grant beneficiary Elsa Casi, from Athlone, said the grant makes it possible to make ends meet.
“My mother is a pensioner and my niece, the breadwinner, was retrenched during the lockdown. It is difficult but we are able to manage with the grants we get,” said Casi.
DA portfolio committee on Social Development member Alexandra Abrahams said: “Backlogs in assessments of disability grant cases have been a historic issue within the social grants system, primarily brought on by the shortage of doctors who are contracted by Sassa.”
She said the temporary disability grants are coming to an end in October, after the six-month grace period implemented as a result of the national lockdown, and applicants will find their grants have lapsed.
Wahab on Monday reassured beneficiaries that grants will not lapse.
“Sassa can further confirm that, in respect of disability grants, temporary disability grants which lapsed in July 2020 or are due to lapse during the months of August to October, will not lapse until the end of December 2020, and will continue being paid until December 31, 2020. Temporary disability grants, which were extended to October 2020, will continue being paid until December 31, 2020,” said Wahab.
The provincial Health Department did not comment by deadline.