Social Assistance Act: Amendments to Regulations

Social Development

03 April 2001
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WELFARE AND POPULATION DEVELOPMENT PORTOFOLIO COMMITTEE

WELFARE AND POPULATION DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
4 April 2001
SOCIAL ASSISTANCE ACT: AMENDMENTS TO REGULATIONS

Chairperson: Mr. E. Saloojee

Relevant Documents
Summary of the proposed amendments to the Draft Social Assistance Act (Appendix 1)
Draft Amendments to the Regulations of Social Assistance Act
(Appendix 2)

SUMMARY
The Department of Welfare introduced an amendment that makes provision for the establishment of panels to replace the medical officer in the adjudication and determination of the disability that would qualify for child support.

The amendment also sought to include children of refugees and permanent residents in the child support scheme. The proposed amendments would simplify the administrative and operational mechanisms of the department.

The proposed amendments addressed specific areas of weaknesses in the current Act.

MINUTES

Mr Makiwane (Chief Director: Social Security) informed the committee that the draft amendments were based on the Social Assistance Act. He said the latent weaknesses in the Act necessitated the proposed amendments to achieve efficiency in the administration of child support programs. He added that the amendments were only temporary measures and that the Act is set for a total overhaul to address the perennial deficiencies experienced in the child welfare administration.

There were other agencies involved in legislative reform in this regard. He singled out the Law Commission, which he said was working to bring the South African Law in this area in line with international standards on child welfare. He also pointed out that the Commission on Awareness had intensified its activities to sensitise the public on issues of child welfare. These measures, he noted, were complimenting the work of the department.

Ms Matholengwe informed the committee that some definitions in the Act would be amended and some improved. She sought the committee's counsel and direction on the proposed amendment to incorporate non-citizens in the child support scheme. The Chair, in consultation with members, deferred this issue to allow for further reflection given its serious implications.

Proposed Panels
Ms Chalmers (ANC) sought to know the character, composition and operational mandate of the proposed panels. Ms Matholengwe replied that the character of the panels would vary depending on if they were rural or urban based. She said the panels would be composed of people from the local community, some medical personnel within the locality and officials from the department's disability sector.

The idea, she underscored, was to incorporate people with the locus standi to testify to the applicant's disability status. The panels, she said further, are poised to inject some efficiency and reliability in the disability assessment process. The current set up is inadequate since it involves a single medical officer of health.

Mr. Gore (DP) inquired on the cost implication to the state in regard to the setting up of the Panels.

Mrs Makasi (ANC) asked whether traditional healers would be utilised as panellists. In response, Ms Matholengwe stated that the panellists would be volunteers and therefore the cost implication to the state was minimal. She said that a traditional healer who resided in a given locality would qualify to be a panellist.

Mr. Masutha (ANC) queried why there was no provision in the draft Act defining the powers and composition of the panel. Mr Makiwane said the envisaged panel would perform purely administrative functions in which case it was necessary to allow the Director General sufficient discretion to set up and define the powers of the panel on an ad hoc basis.

Member Mbadi (UDM) asked if grandparents would qualify as foster parents under the draft Act. Ms Matholengwe said that they would. She clarified, however, that social endowment was not an entitlement or benefit. She said that there was a popular misconception that foster parents were entitled to the endowment. She explained that the facility is set aside to cater for a disabled child who has been placed in an unfamiliar environment. She added that this facility was for two years only, after which the needs of the child have to be reviewed.

The Chair urged that due to time constraints questions had to be confined to the understanding of the draft bill. He further advised that substantive questions be reserved for long session that is due after the recess.

Mr. Masutha (ANC) wondered why it was necessary for one to enter personal appearance during a review session. Ms Matholengwe clarified that not all cases that came up for review require personal appearance. It was only those cases, she said, where the applicant had shown the potential to earn an income that an appearance was necessary to assess his/her current status.

Ms. Chalmers (ANC) inquired how the department determined that a pensioner was still alive. Ms Matholengwe said that all applicants are required to produce a certification affidavit. The Chair pointed out that this was a perennial problem area. In the past, he said, cases had been reported where people continue to collect dues on behalf of pensioners who are long dead. There was, at present, the Chair lamented, no watertight mechanism in the Act to counter this fraud menace.

Mrs Makasi,asked what happened when a pensioner disappeared without trace. Mr Makiwane explained that where a pensioner failed to collect his/her dues within three months, the same is automatically cancelled. It can only be revived on satisfactory explanation of the pensioner's whereabouts.

Mr Makiwane did, however, agree with the Chair that the problem of fraudulent claims is a critical one and calls for a multi-sectoral approach. Capacity building by the government is needed to stamp it out. He hoped that with the setting up of the panel system the problem would abate to a considerable level.

Member Vos (IFP) appealed to the department to consider mechanisms that would prevent parents from abusing the child support scheme for their selfish ends. She noted that grand parents had over the years raised children without incentives and now that there were incentives parents were coming back to claim child support. This, she implored, should not be countenanced. Mr Makiwane promised to look into the issue.

The Chair said that members had only received the draft amendment in the meeting hence they had not reflected on it thoroughly. The Chair said there were important issues which members wished to pursue in the draft bill. He advised that constructive discussions could take place after the recess.

The meeting was adjourned.

Appendix 1
Regulations Regarding Grants Awards to and Financial Awards to Welfare Organisations and to Persons in Need of Social Relief of Distress in terms of the Social Assistance Act No. 59 of 1992

·
Regulation 1
·
Approved-Regulation 10(2) is deleted from the definition of approved because approval is amended to be from the date of the court order for foster child grant.
· Assessment Panels - to replace medical officers of Health and pensions medical officers in assessing disability. The composition of the panels to be appointed by the Director General. A minimum requirement will be a representative from the disability sector.

· Biometric Identification
· Custodian
as is.
· Insertion of the definition of Identity card.
· Life Certificate means a certificate or an affidavit signed and produced by a beneficiary or signed by both a beneficiary and a person referred to in regulation 17(4) and produce by such a person to confirm that the beneficiary is alive or a biometric identification produced by a person referred to in regulation 17(4).(17(4) refers to the procurator)
· Personal Income- means the income of the primary caregiver and his or her spouse as referred to in regulation 14(1) after all permissible deductions referred to in regulation 15.

· Review means the appearance of a beneficiary before an attesting officer to verify that the beneficiary complies with the prescribed conditions for the continuation of the grant.

· Amendment to Regulation 2
·
Sub-reg.(1) to include he or she and his or her spouse pass the means test. The 'and' is substituted for 'or'.
· Subst. for (a) of sub-reg.(3)
· (a).He or she is a disabled person who has attained the age of 1 8 years and whose disability is confirmed by an assessment panel.
· Provided that the assessment panel has confirmed whether the disability is
· permanent in that the disability will continue for more than 12 months.
· Temporary in that the disability will continue for a continuous period of not more than six months or not more than 12 months as the case may be. Please explain.

· Amendment of Regulation 3
·
Sub.Reg(1) a person shall be eligible for a child support grant in respect of a maximum of six children.

· Amendment to Reg.4.
·
Subreg.(1) a foster parent shall be eligible for a foster care grant if the child placed in the custody of the foster parents, is a South African citizen. Provided the income of the child does not exceed twice the annual amount of a foster care grant. (This proposed amendment is going to deleted so that children of refugees and permanent residents can be protected)

· Amendment to Reg. 5
·
Subreg.(i) is amended to make provisions for an assessment panel to confirm that a child is care dependent. The assessment panel will be appointed by the Director General.
· Care Dependency grant is means tested which will remain as is.

· Amendment to Reg. 8.
·
Removal of administrative constraining factors.
· Amendment to Reg. 9.
·
Subreg(2)b of the following:
· b. in the case of a disabled person, a medical report and a report on the personal circumstances of the applicant. (The medical report can be issued by any doctor of the applicant's choice preferably the applicant's own doctor who is familiar with the applicant's medical history).
· Subreg.(6) is amended to read that the Director General may accept
· Alternative proof of any of the documents required in terms of subreg.(1)c to 5.(Including the medical report).
· Amendment to Reg.10
·
Date of applications for grants.
· 10(1) the date on which an application for a grant is signed in accordance with regulations 8(2) and verified by the attesting officer shall be deemed the date on which the application was made.
· (2) the date of the court in terms in terms of which the child was placed in foster care shall be deemed to be the date of application.

· Amendment to Reg.11
Subreg.(1) the date of accrual of a grant shall be the date on which the application is deemed to have been made in terms of reg.10(1).
· Amendment to Reg.13
·
Subreg.(1)d is amended to read as follows. The municipal value of immovable property owned and occupied by the applicant and his or her spouse shall not be taken into account. Provided that the outstanding bond on the property may be deducted for grant purposes.

· Amendment to Reg.14

· By the insertion of child support grants in the heading of Reg.14. Determining income in respect of social grants, foster child grants, care dependency grants and child supports grants. The addition of another subreg.(j) which reads, notwithstanding the provisions of paragraphs (a) to (I) of subreg.(1) the income from social assistance shall not be taken into consideration.
· Amendment of Reg.15
The heading is amended as follows. Permissible deductions in calculating income. (Means is changed to income)

· Amendment to Regulation 22
·
Paragraph (c) is deleted. A care dependent child will not be reassessed at the age of six to determine the child's educability and trainability for attendance of a school.
· Amendment to Regulation 24 of the Regulations.
·
Subreg.(1)(c) should be retained.
· Subreg(2)(d) On the last day of the month in which the child is no longer in the custody of the primary care giver. lt is proposed that this regulation end here and the rest of the clauses to the regulation be deleted because it creates a lot of confusion. The deletion of sub.reg.6 is also proposed.

· Amendment to Reg. 26
·
Subreg.(1) Social Relief in Distress will be provided in the following circum.
· The person is awaiting approval of his/ her grant.
· The person has for a period of up to and including four months has been found by a medical officer to be medically unfit to undertake remunerative work.
· The breadwinner is deceased and insufficient means are available.
· The breadwinner has been admitted to a State institution for up to and including four months.
· The person is not receiving any material assistance from any other organization.
· The person has appealed against the rejection or he suspension of his/her grant.
· (To be added) A person is awaiting the outcome of a maintenance application.

· Amendment of Reg.27
·
Subreg.(6)(c) and (d) are deleted. Proof of the non payment of maintenance and proof that a spouse cannot be traced are deleted because it is time consuming for people in distress to comply with these requirements.
· Amendment to Regulations 29
·
Subreg.(2) is amended to read Social Relief of Distress shall be issued monthly by the Director General or a person assigned by him/her for a maximum period of four consecutive months within a year calculated as from the date of application.
· There is strong argument for social relief in distress be extended to six months.

·
Subreg.(3), (4) and (5) is deleted. The provision for the extension of social relief of distress for a further 3 months is deleted.
· (4) The consideration of each case for an extension of social relief of distress in terms of subreg.3 shall be re-evaluated by the attesting officer on the grounds of a recommendation by a social worker or any other official authorised by the Director General.

Appendix 2


DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

AMENDMENT: REGULATIONS REGARDING GRANTS AND FINANCIAL AWARDS TO WELFARE ORGANISATIONS AND TO PERSONS IN NEED OF SOCIAL RELIEF OF DISTRESS IN TERMS OF THE SOCIAL ASSISTANCE ACT, 1992 (ACT NO. 59 OF 1992)


The Minister for Social Development intends, in terms of section 19 of the Social Assistance Act, 1992 (Act No. 59 of 1992), to make the regulations set out in the Schedule hereto.

Interested parties are invited to submit comments on the proposed regulations to the Director-General: Social Development, Private Bag X901, Pretoria, 0001 fax number: (012) 312-7897 or e-mail:
patn@welspta.pwv.gov.za
(for attention: Ms P Naicker), within 60 days of the date of publication of this notice.

SCHEDULE
1.In these regulations "the Regulations" means the regulations published by Government Notice No. R.418 of 31 March 1998, as amended by the regulations published by Government Notice No. R.813 of 25 June 1999.

Amendment of regulation 1 of the Regulations

2.Regulation 1 of the Regulations is hereby amended -

(a)by the substitution for the definition of "approved" of the following definition:
" 'approved' for the purpose of regulations 8 (4) (a) and 12 (1) (i), means approved by the Minister with the concurrence of the Minister of Finance, and "approve" has a corresponding meaning;";

(b)by the insertion before the definition of "attesting officer" of the following definition:

" 'assessment panel' means a group consisting of individuals appointed by the Director-General who have the relevant experience and expertise to assess disability for the purposes of awarding social grants; " ';

©by the substitution for the definition of "biometric identification" of the following definition:

" 'biometric identification' means a fingerprint or, where a fingerprint cannot be obtained, such other form of identification as may be determined by the Director-General with the concurrence of the Director-General of Home Affairs;";

(d)by the substitution for the definition of "custodian" of the following definition:

" 'custodian' means a person who is responsible for the supervision and care of a child, and "custody" has a corresponding meaning;";

(e) by the deletion of the definitions of "household", "household income" and "identity document";

(f)by the insertion before the definition of "implied consent" of the following definition:

" 'identity card' means the identity card referred to in section 14 of the Identification Act, 1997 (Act No. 68 of 1997) and, unless clearly inconsistent with the provisions of that Act, includes an identity document referred to in section 25 (1) or (2) of that Act;";

(g)by the substitution for the definition of "life certificate" of the following definition:

" 'life certificate' means a certificate or an affidavit signed and produced by a beneficiary or signed by both a beneficiary and a person referred to in regulation 17(4) and produced by such a person to confirm that the beneficiary is alive or a biometric identification produced by a beneficiary or produced by a person referred to in regulation 17(4);";

(h)by the substitution for the definition of "personal income" of the following definition:

" 'personal income' means the income of the primary care-giver and his or her spouse, as referred to in regulation 14 (1), after all the permissible deductions referred to in regulation 15 have been made;";

(i)by the insertion before the definition of "rural area" of the following definition:

" 'review' means the appearance of a beneficiary before an attesting officer to verify that the beneficiary complies with the prescribed conditions for the continuation of the grant;".

Amendment of regulation 2 of the Regulations

3. Regulation 2 of the Regulations is hereby amended -

(a)by the substitution for paragraph (a) of subregulation (1) of the following paragraph:

"(a) he or she and his or her spouse pass the means test as prescribed in regulation 12;";

(b)by the substitution for paragraph (a) of subregulation (3) of the following paragraph:

"(a) he or she is a disabled person who has attained the age of 18 years and whose disability is confirmed by the assessment panel: Provided that the assessment panel has confirmed whether the disability is -

(i)permanent in that the disability will continue for more than 12 months; or
(ii)temporary in that the disability will continue for a continuous period of not more than six months or not more than 12 months as the case may be;";

(c) by the deletion of paragraphs (b) and (d) of subregulation (3).

Amendment of regulation 3 of the Regulations

4. Regulation 3 of the Regulations is hereby amended by the substitution for subregulation (1) of the following subregulation:

"(1) A person shall be eligible for a child support grant in respect of a maximum of six children.".

Amendment of regulation 4 of the Regulations

5. Regulation 4 of the Regulations is hereby amended by the substitution for subregulation (1) of the following subregulation:

"(1) A foster parent shall be eligible for a foster child grant if the child was placed in the custody of the foster parents in terms of the Child Care Act, 1983 (Act No. 74 of 1983) and if the child is a South African citizen: Provided that if the income of the child exceeds twice the annual amount of a foster child grant determined by the Minister with the concurrence of the Minister of Finance such grant shall not be payable.".

Amendment of regulation 5 of the Regulations

6.Regulation 5 of the Regulations is hereby amended by the substitution for subregulation (1) of the following subregulation:

"(1) A parent or parents or a foster parent or foster parents shall be eligible for a care-dependency grant in respect of a care-dependent child for a maximum amount per annum as approved by the Minister with the concurrence of the Minister of Finance: Provided that the assessment panel appointed by the Director-General confirms that the child in question is a care-dependent child as defined in the Act and the combined annual income of the family, after all permissible deductions referred to in regulation 15, shall not exceed R48 000 or such higher amount as the Minister may from time to time determine.".

Amendment of regulation 8 of the Regulations
7. Regulation 8 of the Regulations is hereby amended -

(a)by the substitution in paragraph (b) of subregulation (2) of the word "certified" for the word "verified";

(b)by the deletion of paragraph (c) of subregulation (2);

(c)by the substitution in paragraph (a) of subregulation (3) of the word "certify" for the word "verify";

(d)by the addition in subregulation (3) of the following paragraph:

"(c) verified by a second attesting officer.";

(e)by the substitution for paragraph (a) of subregulation (4) of the following paragraph:

"(a) The Director-General may approve that another person may apply for a grant on behalf of the applicant, in which case the provisions of subregulation (2) shall apply to such person: Provided that such person shall not apply for a grant on behalf of more than five applicants and provided further that such person shall furnish the Director-General with proof that he or she is resident in South Africa;" and.

Amendment of regulation 9 of the Regulations

8.Regulation 9 of the Regulations is hereby amended -

(a)by the substitution for paragraph (b) of subregulation (2) of the following paragraph:

"(b) in the case of a disabled person, a medical report and a report on the personal circumstances of the applicant;";

(c)by the substitution for paragraph (b) of subregulation (5) of the following paragraph:

"(b) a medical report in respect of the care-dependent child;"; and

by the substitution for subregulation (6) of the following subregulation:

"(6) The Director-General may accept alternative proof of any of the documents required in terms of subregulations (1) (c) to (5), including, where applicable, a statement or statements made by the applicant under oath.".

Substitution of regulation 10 of the Regulations

9.Regulation 10 of the Regulations is hereby substituted by the following regulation:

"Date of application for grants

10. (1) The date on which an application for a grant is signed in accordance with regulation 8 (2) (b) and verified by the attesting officer shall be deemed the date on which the application was made.

(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of subregulation (1), the date of the court order in terms of which the child was placed in foster care shall be deemed to be the date of application.".

Amendment of regulation 11 of the Regulations

10. Regulation 11 of the Regulations is hereby amended by the substitution for subregulation (1) of the following subregulation:

"(1) The date of accrual of a grant shall be the date on which the application is deemed to have been made in terms of regulation 10 (1).".


Amendment of regulation 13 of the Regulations

11. Regulation 13 of the Regulations is hereby amended by the substitution for paragraph (d) of subregulation (1) of the following paragraph:

"(d) the municipal value of immovable property owned and occupied by the applicant and his or her spouse shall not be taken into account: Provided that the outstanding bond on the property may be deducted for grant purposes.".

Amendment of regulation 14 of the Regulations

12. Regulation 14 of the Regulations is hereby amended -

(a)by the substitution for the heading to regulation 14 of the following heading:

"Determining income in respect of social grants, foster child grants, care-dependency grants and child support grants";

(b)by the substitution in subregulation (1) for the words preceding paragraph (a) of the following words:

"(1) For the purposes of determining means regarding a social grant or a foster child grant or a care-dependency grant or a child support grant, "income" shall mean - ";

(c) by the addition in subregulation (1) of the following paragraph:

"(j) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraphs (a) to (i) of subregulation (1), the income from social assistance shall not be taken into consideration.".

Amendment of regulation 15 of the Regulations

13. Regulation 15 of the Regulations is hereby amended -

(a) by the substitution for the heading to regulation 15 of the following heading:

"Permissible deductions in calculating income";

(b) by the substitution for the words preceding paragraph (1) of the following words:

"15. The Director-General shall, on submission of acceptable documentary proof when determining the income of an applicant and a spouse in the case of a social grant, the income of the family in the case of a care-dependency grant and the personal income of the primary care-giver and his or her spouse in the case of a child support grant, allow the following deductions or contributions:".

Amendment of regulation 22 of the Regulations

14. Regulation 22 of the Regulations is hereby amended by the deletion of paragraph (c).

Amendment of regulation 24 of the Regulations

15. Regulation 24 of the Regulations is hereby amended -

(a) by the deletion of paragraph (c) of subregulation (1);

(b) by the substitution for paragraph (d) of subregulation (2) of the following paragraph:

"(d) on the last day of the month in which the child is no longer in the custody of the primary care-giver.";

(c) by the deletion of subregulation (6).

Amendment of regulation 26 of the Regulations

16.Regulation 26 of the Regulations is hereby amended by the substitution for subregulation (1) of the following subregulation:

"(1) Subject to the provisions of the Act, a person in need of temporary material assistance may qualify for social relief of distress if he or she complies with one or more of the following conditions:

(a)The person is awaiting approval of his or her grant;

(b)the person has, for a period of up to and including four months, been found by a medical officer to be medically unfit to undertake remunerative work;

(c)the breadwinner is deceased and insufficient means are available;

(d)the breadwinner has been admitted to a State institution for up to and including four months;

(e)the person is not receiving any material assistance from any other organisation; and

(f)the person has appealed the rejection or the suspension of his or her grant.".

Amendment of regulation 27 of the Regulations

17. Regulation 27 of the Regulations is hereby amended by the deletion of paragraphs (c) and (d) of subregulation (6).

Amendment of regulation 29 of the Regulations

18. Regulation 29 of the Regulations is hereby amended -

(a) by the substitution for subregulation (2) of the following subregulation:

"(2) Social relief of distress shall be issued monthly by the Director-General or a person assigned by him or her for a maximum period of four consecutive months within a year calculated as from the date of application.";

(b) by the deletion of subregulations (3), (4) and (5).

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