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Millions of vulnerable South Africans rely on essential SASSA grants for basic survival. With widespread unemployment and poverty exacerbated by COVID-19, these government welfare programs provide crucial lifelines. Understanding SASSA’s offerings is critical, including the vital R350 grant introduced as emergency pandemic aid.

This Special COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress grant better known as the R350 grant, provides urgent monthly support for those severely impacted by the pandemic’s economic consequences. Having comprehensive insight empowers South Africans to access rightful financial assistance during these challenging times through key programs like the R350 grant and other SASSA welfare support.

Overview of Social Assistance Policy and Main SASSA Grants in South Africa

As part of the nation’s wide-ranging social welfare system, the South African government utilizes SASSA as the administering body to distribute regular financial aid to disadvantaged groups through an array of social grant programs. Besides the short-term COVID-19 R350 grant, the main longstanding offerings include:

  • Old Age Grant – For struggling seniors over 60 years old who meet income threshold requirements. Provides up to R1,980 per month to support impoverished elderly citizens.
  • Disability Grant – For South Africans aged 18 to 59 who are certified by medical professionals as unfit for employment due to physical or mental disability. Provides up to R1,980 per month.
  • Child Support Grant – For low-income parents and primary caregivers of children under 18 years old who pass an income-based means test. Provides R480 per month for each eligible child to help cover basic needs.
  • Foster Child Grant – For foster parents registered through the courts to provide care for an orphaned or abandoned child. Provides R1,060 per month per foster child.
  • Care Dependency Grant – For parents, caregivers, and foster parents of children with severe mental or physical disabilities requiring permanent home care before turning 18. Provides R1,980 per month.
  • Grant-in-Aid – An additional R450 per month is provided to existing Disability Grant recipients between 18 and 59 who require full-time care from another person due to the extent of their disability and dependence.
  • War Veteran’s Grant – For South African citizens and permanent residents who fought in World War 1 or World War 2 and are now over the age of 60. Provides R1,980 per month.

These long-standing SASSA grant programs provide regular cash payments monthly to support vulnerable groups facing poverty, disability, orphan care and more. For citizens struggling with socioeconomic challenges, social grants help cover basic living expenses when people lack other sources of income. With widespread hardship across South Africa, especially since COVID-19, SASSA’s programs serve as an essential welfare lifeline for millions.

Understanding the Special COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress Grant (R350 Grant)

In response to the devastating economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, which left many South Africans unemployed and destitute, the South African government introduced a temporary Social Relief of Distress grant in May 2020. Better known as the R350 grant, this short-term program aims to support low-income individuals and families whose livelihoods have been severely affected by the pandemic’s consequences, leaving them unable to meet their most basic needs.

Approved beneficiaries of the R350 grant receive R350 per month, paid directly for a limited period to provide urgent financial relief for essentials like food, utilities, housing and medicine. The grant specifically targets unemployed individuals with no other means of financial support, who are not receiving assistance through other government relief programs. Applicants face intensive screening and eligibility checks from SASSA and SARS to qualify.

Let’s explore the R350 grant application process, payment schedules, collection methods and more so you can access this vital monthly support.

Applying for South Africa’s Special COVID-19 R350 Grant

To qualify for the short-term COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress Grant (R350 grant), applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Aged between 18 and 60 years old
  • South African citizen, permanent resident or refugee with a valid ID number
  • Currently unemployed without income from other sources
  • Not receiving any other social grant, UIF or NSFAS support
  • Have not received severance pay or retirement packages
  • Do not have adequate financial means to support yourself and dependents
  • Pass a SARS means test indicating you fall below the minimum income threshold
  • Not being cared for in a state institution

The R350 grant specifically targets individuals and families hardest hit by job losses and economic exclusion during the pandemic, who have no other means of governmental financial support. Approved recipients can only collect the R350 grant for a limited period, though payments have been repeatedly extended due the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and its impacts.

To apply, you must provide:

  • Your ID and personal details, such as name, age, citizenship status
  • Proof and details of your unemployed status
  • Banking details to receive grant payments
  • Evidence you do not receive income from other sources
  • Any medical assessments if applying due to illness or disability

You can submit your application online via https://srd.sassa.gov.za or visit your nearest SASSA office for assistance applying in person. Applications undergo intensive screening, and verification and approval is not guaranteed – be sure you meet all the eligibility criteria.

R350 Grant Payment Dates, Methods, and Status Tracking

If you are approved as an R350 grant beneficiary, you will receive an SMS notification indicating your confirmed date of payment each month. Payments are typically scheduled in the first week of the month. Here are the expected payment days:

  • Older Persons: 1st and 2nd of the month
  • Disability Grant Recipients: 3rd of the month
  • Child Grants and Other: 4th and 5th of the month

You can choose to collect your monthly R350 grant through:

  • Direct deposit into your personal bank account
  • Cash withdrawal from SASSA-affiliated ATMs
  • Cash pickup at South African Post Office branches
  • Cash collection at Pick n Pay, Boxer, Shoprite, Checkers, or Usave stores
  • Money transfers through services like Money Market, Cash Send, etc.

Be sure to provide and update your latest contact details and preferred payout method with SASSA for ease of payment. On your scheduled date, visit your designated paypoint or check your bank account to collect funds, using them to cover your most pressing monthly living costs.

You can also check the status of your R350 grant application and payments via the SASSA online portal, Moya app, call center or local office visits. Monitoring regularly allows you to identify and resolve any issues in accessing your approved funds.

What to Do If Your R350 Grant Payment Is Late or Missed

If you don’t receive your R350 grant on the confirmed date, immediately:

  • Double-check your status, re-approval, and payment date.
  • Call the SASSA hotline on 0800 601 011 to report non-payment.
  • Visit your nearest SASSA office for urgent in-person assistance.
  • Ensure your personal, ID, and banking details are correctly updated with SASSA.
  • Persistently follow up via calls, emails, and visits until your rightful payment is made.

As an approved beneficiary, you are legally entitled to your R350 grant funds each month. Be proactive and assertive in resolving any disruptions or delays.

Re-Applying for the R350 Grant After Your Initial Approval Period Lapses

The COVID-19 R350 grant is only approved for short 3-month periods initially. To continue receiving this emergency aid, beneficiaries must re-apply and re-qualify before their approval term lapses. To re-apply:

  • Re-submit an application online before your end date.
  • Provide updated documentation proving your ongoing eligibility.
  • Follow the same process as your initial application.
  • Notify SASSA if any circumstances impacting your eligibility have changed.

Re-applying ensures ongoing access to the R350 grant, provided you still meet the qualifying criteria. Be sure to submit your renewal application on time before payments are disrupted.

Who Qualifies to Apply for South Africa’s R350 Grant?

To qualify for the temporary COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress grant, applicants must:

  • Be between 18 and 60 years old
  • Be a South African citizen, permanent resident or refugee with a valid ID
  • Be unemployed without income from any other sources
  • Not be receiving other social grants
  • Not be receiving support through UIF, NSFAS etc.
  • Not being cared for in a state institution
  • Pass a SARS means test indicating low-income status

The grant targets individuals hardest hit by the pandemic’s economic impacts, with no other means of financial support. This emergency aid is their rightful entitlement.

How to Check the Status of Your R350 Grant Application

If you’ve applied for the R350 grant, be sure to track your application status by:

  • Checking online at https://srd.sassa.gov.za using your ID
  • Using the Moya app’s “Application Status” feature
  • Calling SASSA on 0800 601 011 and providing your ID
  • Visiting your nearest SASSA office in person

This allows you to monitor progress and address any issues delaying approval. Check regularly within the 1-3 month processing period.

Methods to Receive R350 Grant Funds

Once approved, you can receive your monthly R350 grant payments via:

  • Direct deposit into your personal bank account
  • Cash withdrawal at South African Post Office branches
  • Pick up at Shoprite, Checkers, Usave, Boxer or other SASSA pay points
  • Withdrawal from ATMs using your SASSA card
  • Money transfers through services like Money Market, Cash Send etc.

Update your details with SASSA to choose your preferred payment method for safely collecting funds monthly.

Steps to Take if You Haven’t Received Your R350 Payment

If you haven’t received your payment on the confirmed date, take action by:

  • Double checking your status and payment date
  • Calling SASSA’s call center at 0800 601 011 to report non-payment
  • Visiting your nearest SASSA office for assistance investigating and resolving
  • Following up persistently until your rightful grant is paid

You have a constitutional right to social assistance where eligible. Be proactive in claiming your entitlement.

Who Regulates and Oversees SASSA Grants?

SASSA (South African Social Security Agency) is the government agency mandated to administer, oversee, and distribute social grants to eligible citizens. Their key functions include:

  • Processing grant applications and determining eligibility
  • Managing beneficiary databases and grant payment systems
  • Combating grant fraud and corruption
  • Providing support services for beneficiaries via call centers and local offices
  • Reporting on performance indicators for transparency

SASSA operates at national, provincial, and local levels to ensure effective, equitable distribution of social grants countrywide.

Key Contact Information for SASSA Grant Enquiries

For any grant questions or issues, please contact SASSA directly:

  • SASSA Call Centre: 0800 601 011
  • Email: grantenquiries@sassa.gov.za
  • Website: www.sassa.gov.za
  • National Office: 012 400 2111
  • Provincial and Local Offices nationwide

Engage SASSA promptly if you experience any grant challenges or need assistance.

Social Grants Available to Permanent Residents and Refugees

South Africa also makes certain social grants available to permanent residents and registered refugees with valid permits, who meet other qualifying criteria. The main programs include:

  • Older Person’s Grant – For those over 60s with low income.
  • Disability Grant – For medically certified disability-preventing work.
  • Care Dependency Grant – For severely disabled children requiring permanent care.
  • Child Support Grant – If the primary caregiver of a child under 18.
  • Foster Child Grant – For formally fostering an orphaned or abandoned child.

These grants aim to provide vital welfare support to legally residing foreign nationals facing socioeconomic challenges and who have a right to social assistance where eligible.

Alternative Social Assistance Options for Undocumented Foreign Nationals

Strict criteria limit social grants from SASSA only to citizens, permanent residents and registered refugees with legal status. However, South Africa’s Department of Social Development notes that undocumented foreign nationals have a constitutional right to seek social assistance when facing utter desperation.

Options include:

  • Seeking emergency relief aid from the Department of Social Development.
  • Accessing support from NGOs, charities, faith groups, and migrant organizations.
  • Utilizing municipal programs related to shelters, food relief, and healthcare.

While ineligible for regular SASSA grants, alternative support should be available to migrants with nowhere else to turn in times of dire need.

Welfare Support Options for Migrant Workers in South Africa

Migrant workers from neighboring countries often pursue employment opportunities in South Africa, especially in agriculture, mining, hospitality, and domestic work. Options for seeking social assistance include:

  • Accessing UIF support if you lose your job, available to documented foreign nationals.
  • Seeing emergency relief from the Department of Social Development if facing destitution.
  • Utilizing aid from NGOs, charities, churches, and migrant community groups.
  • Requesting repatriation assistance from your embassy or high commission.

While excluded from core SASSA grants, alternative welfare options are available to migrants in times of utter desperation.

Social Assistance for Returning South African Emigrants and Expats

South African citizens who lived abroad as emigrants or expats for over five years are ineligible for social grants upon first returning to the country, to deter misuse by non-active citizens. However, after three continuous months back in South Africa, returning citizens can apply for assistance from the Department of Social Development if facing financial desperation through programs like:

  • Special COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress Grant
  • Food and nutritional support
  • Direct humanitarian relief aid
  • Vouchers to purchase basic goods

After being back in South Africa for over six months, returning emigrants can also formally apply for regular SASSA grants if they now meet the eligibility criteria as active citizens again.

Social Grants Available to South African Students Studying Abroad

As a South African citizen studying overseas at an accredited tertiary institution, you remain eligible for key social grants from SASSA subject to regular eligibility checks. These include:

  • Disability Grant – If you have a certified disability impacting studies.
  • Child Support Grant – If the primary caregiver to children under 18 back home.
  • Care Dependency Grant – If caring for disabled children under 18.
  • Foster Child Grant – If formally fostering any children.

Submit your grant application online or visit your nearest SASSA office to begin the assessment while you are home on break. If approved, your grant funds can be sent to you regularly via bank transfers while abroad. This financial support aims to assist with daily and educational expenses.

Getting Additional Study Aid for South African Students Abroad

Besides SASSA grants you remain eligible for, additional options to get financial assistance while studying overseas include:

  • Applying for NSFAS loans, bursaries, and scholarships before leaving.
  • Seeking scholarships and stipends from your international university and host country.
  • Take part-time employment and work-study programs if allowed on your visa.
  • Applying for local government assistance related to unemployment, housing, and healthcare if eligible.
  • Asking family members back home for financial support if needed.
  • Joining university foreign student societies that fundraise and support each other.
  • Crowdsourcing donations from your extended networks.

Combining multiple resources can help you fund studies abroad when SASSA grants alone are insufficient.

We hope this guide provides extensive insight into successfully accessing your rightful SASSA social grants and welfare benefits during these challenging times. These programs offer a vital lifeline when facing unemployment, poverty, disability, and other socioeconomic hardships. Ensure you understand your full entitlements and follow each process closely to utilize essential government aid.

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