However, the agency’s CEO Busisiwe Memela says the claims are untrue – it is simply cutting off payments to people whose disabilities were temporary
The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) continues to be the centre of conversations online after the agency suspended more than 200,000 temporary disability grants.
According to Business Insider, the agency said the suspension was partially caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, after a number of grant extensions last year.
The last official payment date for the temporary disability grant was on December 31.
“At the end of December 2020, Sassa suspended 210,778 disability grants nationally, as the extended period for which they were awarded had expired. To have continued payment of the grants until end March 2021 would have cost an additional R1.2bn, which funds are not available,” the agency said in a statement.
Sassa CEO Busisiwe Memela told SAFM on Monday that claims it had run out of money were untrue. She added that the agency was simply cutting off payments to people whose disabilities were temporary.
On social media, the agency told those affected to reapply for the monthly payments by visiting a Sassa office. Applicants are also required to bring a detailed referral report from a doctor to confirm their disability.
“You can apply for the renewal of the expired temporary disability grant at the nearest Sassa office. Affected citizens must also bring a detailed referral report from their treating doctor, which confirms the impact of the medical condition or disability,” the agency said.
You can apply for the renewal of the expired Temporary Disability Grant at the nearest SASSA office. Affected citizens must also bring a detailed referral report from their treating doctor, which confirms the impact of the medical condition or disability. pic.twitter.com/rgwlGGAaZV
— SASSA (@OfficialSASSA) January 9, 2021
DA MP Bridget Masango called for an urgent parliamentary meeting over the issue, saying social development minister Lindiwe Zulu must account for how her department intends to handle the disability grant crisis. She also called for the agency to provide a guarantee that the grant reassessment deadlines would be extended at least until March.
“During the initial lockdown, the requirement that disability grant recipients receive biannual assessments to confirm their disability was suspended, and all grant benefits were extended for an additional few months,” said Masango in a statement.
“This was done to avoid forcing vulnerable beneficiaries out of their homes to undergo these assessments, and to reduce assessment demand during a period of limited health-care staff capacity.
“To date, the government has failed to prepare for the upcoming flood of beneficiaries who will need to undergo their reassessments, thereby putting many vulnerable South Africans at risk of losing their much-needed disability grants in the coming weeks.”
Sassa’s move evoked outrage among social media users, who asked how the agency could run out of money “when people are being taxed every month”.
Here is a snapshot of some of the reactions:
Help me understand how does SASSA run out of money when people are being taxed every month?educate me bathong
— Shasha (@CharleneMalook) January 9, 2021
The R500 Billion is finished, now they’ve looted the money for the disabled. How can SASSA run out of money while we paying Tax everyday? Sies!
— Comrade Cellular® ❁ (@Cellular_ZA) January 10, 2021
We’re gonna have a basic unemployment grant in 2021, but sassa has suspended payments to over 200k disability grant recipients due to lack of funds.
Please, make it make sense? #ANC109
— Ms_Gupta 🇿🇦 ❤️ (@African_Spring) January 9, 2021
How can SASSA run out of Money while we paying tax?
Why are they not cutting those huge salaries of the public representatives. #SASSA
— Bhejula Lwando (@Bhejula_Lwandoz) January 10, 2021