Still no pension for mother (74)

2018-09-18 06:01
Bahieja Scipio and her daughter Safia Arendse from Siene Walk in Manenberg.PHOTO: AISHAH CASSIEM

Bahieja Scipio and her daughter Safia Arendse from Siene Walk in Manenberg.PHOTO: AISHAH CASSIEM

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At the age of 60, an elderly citizen with no other means of financial income is expected to be a beneficiary of an old age grant – a monthly income received from the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa).

However, for Bahieja Scipio, a 74-year-old from Seine Walk in Manenberg, the hope of receiving financial assistance from Sassa is far from a reality.

Scipio has been struggling to get a pension for more than 14 years and explains her visits to the Sassa offices in Athlone have only ended in disappointment.

According to the Scipio, on her last visit to Sassa she was told to bring along bank statements and to visit the Department of Labour for other necessary documents in order to finalise the process.

“I am tired of wasting my time and energy on Sassa. I was told to come back with certain documents to complete my application for a pension. But every time I do what was requested of me, then I am told something else as to why I can’t get one,” she says.

“I was informed that my identity document does not match my fingerprints and that I needed to have it fixed. They (Sassa) also told me that I can’t get a grant because I don’t have a bank account. I asked if I can use my husband’s bank account instead and then they said yes.

“But Sassa officials are now telling me that I can’t get a grant because my husband’s account is still filled with money that he received from his previous job when he retired­.”

Scipio explains that her husband’s money, which he received six years ago, will not last her family longer than this year, and she fears that they (family) will struggle without a grant when the time comes.

“They (Sassa) said I must live off my husband’s money. I don’t know how they expect us to live from it forever. The remaining money in his account needs to cover our rent, water, food and other necessary things in order for us to live.

“I also couldn’t make application for a medical grant for my health conditions. They (Sassa) told me my husband needs to pay for my medical bills with the remaining money he has in his account.

“It is very difficult for me to travel via public transport to Athlone with the hopes of receiving a grant. I don’t know what to do anymore. I am at that point where I told myself I am not going to try again,” adds Scipio.

According to Sassa, Scipio or any other applicant for an old age grant must be a resident of South Africa, must be 60 years or older, must not be maintained or cared for in a state institution, must not be in receipt of another social grant and must submit an identity document, in order for their application to be successful.

Shivani Wahab, Sassa’s senior manager of communications and marketing in the Western Cape, explains that in the case of Scipio, as a frail citizen she may contact Sassa and request a home visit. Wahab says an official wouldcontact Scipio and arrange a home visit. “The current amount payable to beneficiaries is R1690. However, beneficiaries over the age of 75 should receive R1710. But the application process is a two-phased procedure­.”

Wahab explains all applicants should bring along their IDs and undergo a screening process.

Once Sassa has completed the screening process, further documentation may be requested such as the spouse’s ID, marriage certificate, proof of address, proof of income, three months’ bank statements and proof of any investments.

“Once the application process has been completed, applicants will be given a receipt as proof.”

If the application is not approved, Sassa provides reasons in writing.

The applicant may request a reconsideration within 90 days and then an appeal to the minister of social development if the latter attempt fails.

“Every social grant application process is subject to a means test, where Sassa evaluates the income and assets of all applicants in order to determine whether the person’s means are below a stipulated amount.

“The means test varies from one grant type to another. If it is exceeded, then a beneficiary may or may not be eligible for a social grant.”

This may, however, be the case for Scipio, due to the income of her spouse, as it could be the reason why she has not qualified for a social grant, explains Wahab.

She says the fact that Scipio does not have a bank card is not a valid reason not to apply for a social grant. “The new payment options available to beneficiaries are more accessible and are based on the discretion of the beneficiary,” she adds.

V Beneficiaries may call Sassa on toll-free number 0800 601 011 or Sassa Western Cape on 021 469 0235 to set up an appointment for a home visit.

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