Sassa ready to take new applications and renewals for disability grants
The SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) has set aside two days a week to attend to disability grant matters at its centres from this month as the agency restores the process for applicants to apply for these grants.
Sassa found itself unable to process applications for new disability grants and renewals in March after the imposition of the lockdown.
Sassa said temporary disability grants had a lifespan of 12 months. Recipients have to reapply for the continuation of the payment of the grant.
New applications for these grants were not possible because services from the health department, such as medical assessments, were suspended to redirect resources to combat Covid-19.
Disability grant applications require an assessment by a medical doctor.
On Wednesday, Sassa said it had developed a strategy to phase in the services to enable applicants to apply for or renew disability grants.
Sassa will prioritise people whose medical assessments were done before lockdown but who have incomplete applications. It said medical assessments for disability grants were valid for three months only, and the priority would be to complete applications before the medical assessments expired.
After that, priority will be given to applicants who were booked for medical assessments which could not be done before the lockdown.
Sassa said these two groups comprised 19,035 cases countrywide.
The third group tackled will be permanent-disability grant beneficiaries who were last paid in January 2020 because they did not complete the review process as legislatively required.
"There are 1,844 of these clients nationally. The majority were booked for assessments prior to lockdown, and are therefore catered for under category two."
Sassa said these people needed to make appointments. The local offices would contact them to make the appointments as their details were known.
The next category of people were urgent cases referred by the department of health with medical assessments already done.
"This could be, for example, clients who were hospitalised and discharged but are not able to be employed because of their disability."
The last group would be new applicants who needed to be booked for assessments. Sassa said it had 475 contracted medical officers who could conduct assessments.
"In order to comply with the Covid-19 protocols, the number of assessments per session have been reduced from 40 to 20. This will enable sanitisation of the facility and equipment between clients."
Sassa said many assessments were done in health facilities before Covid-19. Sassa now had to identify spaces within Sassa offices where assessments could be done as an alternative.
"Sassa is acutely aware of the challenges persons with disabilities have faced as a result of the non-availability of assessment services and is doing everything possible to attend to the many cases that require attention."