Proposed Amendments to Regulations of the Social Assistance Act

Social Development

08 May 2001
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010509pcsocdev

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
9 May 2001
PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO SOCIAL ASSISTANCE ACT REGULATIONS

Chairperson: Mr E. Saloojee

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

Previous Related Meetings: 4 April 2001

SUMMARY
The Department of Welfare is considering the possibility of including terminally ill Aids patients in the disability grants program. The department said that this measure was one of the many issues being surveyed by the Committee of Enquiry into a Comprehensive Social Security System. The committee noted that the social security system was undergoing a review at present but criticised the slow pace of reform. The committee called for the establishment of a multi-disciplinary pool of assessment panels from which persons can be constituted to preside over applications for disability grants. The committee hoped that the requisite personnel and resources would be made available in remote rural outposts to benefit those deserving the facility.

MINUTES
Professor Vivienne Taylor (Special advisor to the Minister, Chairperson of the Committee of Enquiry into a Comprehensive Social Security System) and Mr Makiwane (Chief Director of Social Security) carried forward the discussion on the proposed amendments after the briefing held on 4 April.

Discussion
Ms Ramotsamai (ANC) inquired about the composition of the assessment Panels. Mr Makiwane explained that panels were mooted to shift the process of decision making from one individual to a group of persons. Mr Makiwane said that with the current shortage of medical personnel in the country, relying on the sole report of a single medical doctor was not feasible. This, he added, was more of an urgent problem in rural areas. Mr Makiwane said that his department looked forward to some guidance from the committee in this regard.

Mr Masutha (ANC) explained that panels would address two specific issues - the nature of the disability that would qualify for a disability grant and the problem of lack of resources. Mr Masutha explained that the rural areas were particularly worrisome given their lack of resources and personnel. He expressed serious doubts as to whether the requisite quorum for the panels would be realised in some very remote rural outposts.

Ms Mars (IFP) concurred with Mr Mike and called on the department to ensure that the constituted panels incorporated social workers. To this point, Ms Ramotsamai (ANC) called for proper mechanisms to be put in place to guard against abuse of office by members of the panel. Ms Mars suggested that people of integrity and opinion leaders are appointed to the panels to ensure that there is a quorum to transact business.

Ms Chalmers (ANC) agreed with Ms Ramotsamai that in most cases nominated persons become perennial absentees. Mr De Camara (DP), too, said that he was concerned about the level of commitment to be expected from those appointed to the panels. On this note Mr Masutha suggested that the department should develop a code of ethic having uniform application to members of the panels and all employees of the department. Ms Chalmers and Ms Ramotsamai agreed that this was a very crucial item to be pursued by the department.

Prof. Mbadi (UDM), however, cautioned against making too stringent qualification criteria and thereby complicating the process. He noted that most areas to be covered are rural and therefore devoid of personnel of the calibre contemplated. Ms Kasiayane suggested that area Councillors and traditional healers be co-opted in the panels. She said that given the influence these people carry in rural areas, it would give the panels sufficient credibility.

Ms Chalmers sought to know the extent to which HIV would be rated as a disability. The ailment, she noted has the capacity to put a person out of action for a considerable period of time. Prof. Tayor informed the committee that the question of HIV was one of the issues being considered for rateability by the structures set up to reform the Social Security system.

On the question of reviews Mr Masutha explained that there were only two types of grants namely a temporary grant and a permanent one. The former, he said, was subject to periodical reviews to assess the desirability of continuation of the grant whilst the latter was indefinite save for periodical reviews as and when the department deems it necessary to do so. He pointed out that in the past, the department had postponed reviews indefinitely thereby causing people to carry the misguided impression that the facility (grant) was itself indefinite. This omission, he lamented, had been the cause of unnecessary confusion in the system. He urged that review panels exercise their role expeditiously when need arises.

One way of limiting the incident of reviews, advised Ms Kalyan (DP), was to categorise disabilities. This, she offered, would give the department the necessary leeway to sample out cases that deserve to go for reviews. It would, she added, cut down on the time and resources applied to this end.

On the issue of declaring the status of ones income, Ms Mars suggested that a simple affidavit declaring ones income should be sufficient. Ms Kasienyane (ANC), however, cautioned that not all persons can be trusted with the truth. She called for some form of monitoring.

Ms Mars asked the department to address the ambiguity relating to a foster mother in the traditional sense. She said that this ambiguity had in the past locked out deserving black African children who were in traditional foster care. She added that the whole question of Social Security is openly discriminating against black people. Ms Mars indicated her surprise that the imbalance had not been contested in the Constitutional court. Furthermore, Ms Mars wondered why there was no social security facility for bereaved persons.

Ms Chalmers noted that the time it takes for a person to be appointed a foster parent is quite substantial. She suggested that an affidavit sworn by a social worker be accepted to qualify a foster child for the grant while awaiting the decision of the court. Mr Masutha clarified that a primary care giver need not be a foster parent to qualify for the grant. He said that the former stand at par with the latter as long as the child qualifies for special care.

Ms Chalmers said in regard to regulation 8 that the committee preferred the process of certification to verification. She noted that the committee was uncomfortable with the latter due to its red tape administrative hurdles that would occasion delays. She wondered whether, indeed regulation 26 would ever, in reality, be implemented. She pointed out that Regulation 26 has historically been problematic. Mr Makiwane explained that part of the problem has been that people were ignorant about the utility of the provision. He hoped that with the current level of awareness more people would make use of it.


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.

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