How Can I Apply for an Unemployment Grant?

In every society, there are times when certain individuals fall on hard times that cannot be remedied through simple determination and grit. Social security nets are often formed so that, when these circumstances occur, these citizens in need are able to seek aid in the form of welfare. Recent times have dramatically increased the number of people in need of assistance which begs the question – How do you apply for an unemployment grant and what are the requirements to get one?

The Social Relief of Distress Grant is available for those in dire need who are unable to provide for their families most basic needs. It is important to note that this grant is temporary and may come in the form of a food parcel or voucher rather than in cash.

Before going into any detail it should be noted that, at the time of writing, the special Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress(SRD) grants are no longer available. These ‘Covid grants’, which were aimed at reducing the damage of the pandemic on unemployed individuals via payments of R350 per month, were officially ended on the 30th of April 2021. Grants that were already approved but not yet paid are still valid but no new applications may be made.

How Can I Apply for an Unemployment Grant?
How Can I Apply for an Unemployment Grant?

There have been calls to extend this grant but so far there is no new government mandate authorising such an extension. There are, however, still multiple grants available for those in need so don’t lose hope just yet.

Who Provides Unemployment Grants?

If you find yourself unemployed and in dire straits, there are two main agencies that you can approach for payouts depending on your situation.

  • UIF The Unemployment Insurance Fund provides financial assistance for unemployed workers who have been registered with them. Employers are compelled by law to register workers with the UIF if they work for more than 24 hours a month.
  • SASSA – The South African Social Security Agency provides various grants for those in need. Usually, applicants need to provide reasons as to why they should receive payments in the form of certain grants, for example, those who are unable to provide for their children may be given a Child Support Grant, said, in extreme scenarios, people who normally would not be eligible for a grant may receive relief via an SRD grant if they are in a ‘desperate situation’.

How do you Apply for an SRD Grant?

The Social Relief of Distress Grant is available for those in dire need who are unable to provide for their families most basic needs. It is important to note that this grant is temporary and may come in the form of a food parcel or voucher rather than in cash.

In order to receive a SRD grant, you will need to –

  • Reach out to your local SASSA office
  • Submit your application for SRD relief
  • Include a form of identification – Ideally, this would be your ID document, however, if this is unavailable you may use other forms of identification such as an affidavit from a Justice of the Peace or a signed statement from a reputable source such as a social worker or religious minister.
  • Show proof that you are in need of the SRD grant – This step involves proving that you have no income, support, etc.
How Can I Apply for an Unemployment Grant?
How Can I Apply for an Unemployment Grant?

Once these steps have been completed, your application will be assessed in terms of its credibility. Even if you cannot provide all relevant documentation, you will receive your grant for the first month, however, if you do not produce the relevant documentation before your next payment is required, you will not receive subsequent payouts. 

Remember, SRD grants are not available if you are receiving a different type of grant.

How Long is the SRD Grant Valid for?

The SRD grant is valid for 3 months initially (if all documentation is presented) though you can apply to have this period extended for another 3 months if you still find yourself in a desperate situation.

What are the Different Types of Grants Available?

How Can I Apply for an Unemployment Grant?
How Can I Apply for an Unemployment Grant?

Various grants are available depending on the struggles facing the individual in question. In some cases, more than one type of grant can be given out if the applicant meets the necessary requirements. All applicants must be either South African citizens, permanent residents or officially recognised refugees and must be living in the country (with the expectation of ISS applicants). The different grants available are –

  • International Social Services – The ISS provides assistance to foreign nationals who are in need of help. Foreign nationals in South Africa or South Africans living in other countries who suffer due to international migration or displacement may seek aid from the ISS.
  • Child Support Grant – These grants are available if you are the primary caregiver for a child. A payout will be given per child in your care; however, the grant will not be given for more than 6 children who are not yours biologically or who were not legally adopted. 
  • Social Relief of Distress – The SRD grant is the most broad-spectrum assistance program on the list. Many people in various types of scenarios can apply for it including those who do not make the cut for other grants but who find themselves in a desperate situation.
  • Old Age Pension – If you are 60 years old or older and struggling with finances, you can seek assistance from the Old Age Pension.
  • Care Dependency Grant – Caregivers with children that suffer from severe disabilities and who require full time and special care can apply for this grant.
  • Grant in Aid – If you are on a grant already but you require a caregiver (for example, if you are a disabled war veteran), you may also apply for this grant in order to pay for your caregiver.
  • War Veterans Grant – If you fought in WW2 or in the Korean War and lack the ability to take care of yourself, you may apply for this grant.
  • Disability Grant – Those with a mental or physical disability that prevents them from working for more than 6 months are able to apply for this grant.

*(Please note: different income limits exist for each grant and those whose incomes exceed the limits are not eligible for financial aid)*

What is a Means Test?

When applying for one of the aforementioned grants, you may be subjected to a Means Test. This process is used to determine your income and the value of your assets in order to find out whether or not you are eligible for the grant in question. For example, an elderly person with a low income may be denied an Old Age Pension grant if their property is extremely valuable.

In Conclusion – What Types of Unemployment Grants are there and How can I Apply for One?

When struggling with issues of unemployment, there are two main outlets available for relief. The first is UIF payments which are available for those who are already registered. Employers are legally obliged to register their workers for UIF if they are employed for more than 24 hours a month. 

If you are not registered with the UIF, there are multiple grants that may be applied for via SASSA which can help you depending on your situation. The most common version is the SRD grant which has a broad set of requirements for application. Specifically, citizens who are not eligible for other grants but who are in a ‘desperate situation’ may be accepted for an SRD grant.

How Can I Apply for an Unemployment Grant?
How Can I Apply for an Unemployment Grant?

Unfortunately, the special Covid-19 SRD grant which was available for unemployed citizens during the pandemic was officially halted as of April 30th 2021. Many groups have petitioned the government to reinstate the grant and even increase the amount that was available, however, there are currently no plans to continue the program.

Other grants are available for individuals in different situations, for example, parents who are unable to provide for their children may receive child support grants while older people may be accepted for the pension program.

Depending on the grant type, different requirements may be necessary, for example, SRD grant recipients will need to provide some form of ID and prove the difficulty of their situation. Additionally, grant applicants are usually subjected to a means test.

A means test is used to determine the income and asset value of those applying for grants. If you have a high enough income or if your assets have a high total value, you may not be accepted for a grant.

Certain grants, such as the SRD, may not necessarily be paid out in the form of cash but could instead take the form of a food parcel or voucher. Additionally, some grants are temporary and expire over time, for example, the SRD is valid for 3 months although it can be extended for an extra 3 months if the applicant’s living conditions have not improved. 

Disclaimer LAW101: All of our posts are for research purposes only. Law 101 aims to assist its readers with useful information on the laws of our country that can guide you to make decisions in line with the South African Governmental Laws currently in place. Although our posts cite the constitution in many instances, they are intended to assist readers who are looking to expand their knowledge of the law. Should you require specific legal advice we advise you to get in touch with a qualified legal expert.

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