In April 2011 the Child Support Grant was raised from R250 to R260 a month per child. Another increase of R10 is scheduled for October. You can be paid a Child Support Grant if you are the primary caregiver of one or more children. You do not have to be related to the child or children, but you must be the person who looks after them and takes responsibility for their everyday needs such as food, clothing, schooling and health care. The primary caregiver can be a parent, sister, brother, grandparent, friend or child over 16 years who is heading a family. Children who are heading households and who are between the age of 16 and 18 can apply for the Child Support Grant with the help of a supervising adult, like a social worker.
NOTE: Under new regulations vulnerable children under the age of 17 (born after 31 December 1993) will now be eligible. The government has undertaken to extend the grant to children under 18 by 2012.
How do I know if I am able to claim this grant for children in my care?
You are eligible if:
- You are a South African citizen or permanent resident
- You live in South Africa
- The child you are caring for is under 17 years (changing to 18 years in 2012)
- The child is a South African citizen and is living with you in South Africa
- The child is not being cared for in a state institution
- You are the legal guardian of the child, if you are not the parent, and you are at least 16 years old
- You have permission to look after the child (such as a court order), if you are not the parent
- You are not receiving any other form of grant for the child, such as a Foster Care or Care Dependency Grant
- You are not paid to look after the child or children
- You meet the requirements of the Means Test
If you are not the child’s biological parent (you are not the birth mother or father of the child), you will need to fill in information about your relationship to the child. You will need to explain that you are the legal guardian of the child, that you have permission to look after the child, and that you have tried and failed to get maintenance money from the parents of the child. If the child’s parents have died or disappeared, you will need to write this on the application form and provide proof of death (death certificates) or disappearance (police reports).
Refugees, foreigners with visas, asylum seekers and undocumented foreigners may not access the Child Support Grant.
The Means Test
If you are a single parent or caregiver you must not be earning more than R2 600 per month (R31 200 per annum) and if you are married your joint income must not exceed R5 200 per month (R62 400 per annum). To show that you earn less than this amount, you will need to have copies of bank statements, or pay slips from your work. If you are not sure how to show proof of the money that you earn, ask your local advice office or social worker.
You cannot get this grant for more than six children who are not your
biological or legally adopted children.
Before you go to your nearest South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) office make sure that you have the following documents:
- Your Identity Document (ID) book (with the 13-number bar code)*
- The child’s birth certificate or ID book (with the 13-number bar code)*
- Proof of your regular income such as bank statements (for three months), pay slips or a letter from an employer
- Proof of your spouse's income (pay slip or a sworn statement) if you are married and he or she is working
- Your marriage certificate, if applicable
- Proof of any maintenance money you may receive for the child/children
- A copy of your discharge certificate, if you were retrenched or fired from your previous work
- Your UIF book or certificate, or a sworn statement, if you are unemployed
- A court order saying that you have custody of the child, if you are divorced
- The death certificate(s), if one or both parents are dead
- Proof that the parent or parents are missing, e.g. a missing person's report from
the police, if applicable
- Papers to prove that you are the child’s legal guardian or that you have permission to look after the child
*If you don’t have an ID or the child’s birth certificate, you must provide the following:
- An affidavit completed in a standard SASSA format in the presence of a Commissioner of Oaths who is not a SASSA official
- A sworn statement by a reputable person (e.g. councillor, traditional leader, social worker, minister of religion) who knows the applicant and child
- Proof that you have applied for an ID and/or birth certificate at the Department of Home Affairs
- Temporary ID issued by the Department of Home Affairs, if applicable
- Baptismal certificate, if available
- 'Road to health' clinic card, if available
- School report, if available
If you do not have all of these papers, contact your social worker, local advice office or one of the NPOs in the AIDSbuzz directory that help with social grants. You can also phone the Department’s free hotline 0800 601 011
or go to www.sassa.gov.za
At the SASSA office you will be required to submit an application form, be interviewed and have your fingerprints taken. If you cannot go to the officesyourself, a friend or family member can take letters from you and your doctor saying why you cannot do so. A SASSA official will then arrange to visit you at home.
Steps to follow
- Complete the application form in the presence of a SASSA officer (note that only you as the applicant or a SASSA official can complete the application form)
Submit the completed application form together with the necessary documents
- Obtain a receipt once your application has been submitted
- Keep this receipt as proof of your application
What happens next?
- The application should be processed within three months (although some SASSA offices process applications immediately)
- You will receive a letter telling you whether or not your application has been successful
- If your grant is approved, you will be paid from the day you applied
- If the SASSA office does not approve your application, you will be informed in writing as to reasons why your application was unsuccessful. If you disagree with the decision, you need to lodge an appeal in writing to the Minister of Social Development through the national office of the Department of Social Development within 90 days of receiving the letter
If you are worried you can phone the free SASSA helpline: 0800 601 011
to find out what has happened to your application and when they can expect payment.
How the grant is paid
The grant is payable in one of the following ways:
- Cash at a specific pay point on a particular day
- Electronic deposit into your bank account (the bank may charge you for the service)
- Post office
- Institution (e.g. a children’s home) which is acting as the grant administrator
Note: If you are unable to collect the money yourself, you can appoint a procurator at the SASSA office, or give someone power of attorney to collect the grant on your behalf. You can also change the way the grant is paid at any time by filling in a form at the SASSA office.
Do I need to renew the Child Support Grant?
No. To check if you as the parent or primary caregiver are still eligible for
the grant, SASSA will send you an annual registered letter asking you to provide up-to-date information about your current financial
circumstances. However, if your financial circumstances improve before SASSA
sends you this letter, you must let SASSA know. You must also inform
SASSA of any other changes in your or the child's circumstances.
Receiving a grant when a person is not eligible for one is fraud.
SASSA can decide to review the child’s grant at any stage. Your income, as declared when you applied for the grant, will form the basis for this decision. You will be notified three months in advance of the date the review will take place, or the date on which the life certificate is due. If you receive your money through the bank, an institution or procurator, you are required to fill in a life certificate for the child at the SASSA offices every year.
Situations in which the grant will be suspended
The following may result in the suspension of the child’s grant:
• When your circumstances change
• The outcome of a review
• If you fail to co-operate when the child’s grant is reviewed
• When you commit fraud or misrepresent the child
• If there was a mistake when the child’s grant was approved
• If the child is no longer in your care
When will the child’s grant lapse?
• The child passes away
• The child is admitted to a state institution
• The caregiver doesn’t claim it for three consecutive months
• The child is absent from the country
If the child gets a different primary caregiver when he or she is still under 17 years, the benefits to the previous caregiver will stop and the new caregiver must then apply for the grant.
Other financial support
Once a grant has been approved, people who have not yet received any
money but are in desperate need of support can apply for temporary
assistance in the form of Social Relief of Distress (SRD). SRD is
normally issued as a food parcel but can also be a voucher or cash
payment. If money is paid, this amount will be deducted from the grant money they eventually receive.
Parents and primary caregivers do not have to pay school fees for children who are benefitting from a Child Support Grant
as they have passed the means test that shows they are poor. If their household is in need they can also apply for ‘indigency status’ at their Municipal Offices which may help them with the cost of their water, electricity and property rates.