THE South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) has set November as deadline for funeral policy deductions of beneficiaries receiving state grants. The agency announced on Tuesday (16/08) that due to amendments of the regulations of the Social Assistance Act of 2004, social grant beneficiaries will have to make alternative arrangements regarding the payment of funeral premiums. “Amending these regulations was a necessary and responsible step taken by Sassa and the Social Development Department in order to protect vulnerable beneficiaries against unscrupulous financial service providers. “The law allows for only a maximum of 10% of the grant value to be deducted and requires that Sassa should be informed whenever a beneficiary enters into a contract with a funeral insurance service provider,” said Sandy Godlwana, senior manager: Communication and Marketing Free State. She said in some cases, Sassa is not involved and this results in unauthorised deductions which come as a surprise to the beneficiary when the next payment cycle comes. “This happens where beneficiaries are approached and made to sign agreements that are not explained to them. Countless beneficiaries have complained to Sassa about funeral policy deductions coming off their grants without their knowledge.”“Beneficiaries with direct deductions for funeral insurance from child grants should note that the deductions will be discontinued in December 2016. “All child grant beneficiaries should make alternative payment arrangements with their financial service providers on how premiums will be paid from December 2016 onwards,” she said.The arrangement is due to complaints by beneficiaries about unauthorised deductions of their grant and followed Minister Bathabile Dlamini’s appointment of an advisory committee. “Sassa developed this mechanism which helps beneficiaries to report unauthorised deductions which are investigated and resolved to a large extent. The new regulations are a step in the right direction and will assist in resolving unauthorised deduction disputes,” said Godlwana.