SOME of social grant beneficiaries must now come up with alternative arrangements regarding the payment of funeral insurance premiums. This came up after South African Security Services Agency (SASSA) made amendments of the regulations of the Social Assistance Act of 2004.
SASSA spokesperson in North West, Smanga Selemeni said the amending of regulations was necessary. He added that it was a 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. It also requires that SASSA should be informed whenever a beneficiary enters into a contract with a funeral insurance service provider. In some cases, SASSA is not involved and this results in illicit deductions which come as a surprise to the beneficiary when the next payment cycle comes.
“This happens in cases 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,” Selemeni said.
He said this forced Minister Bathabile Dlamini to appoint an advisory committee which recommended a dispute resolution mechanism. Selemeni further said SASSA developed this mechanism which helps beneficiaries to report such 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. Beneficiaries with funeral policies will be affected and have to take the stipulated necessary measures. Beneficiaries with direct deductions for a funeral insurance/scheme 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. Beneficiaries having direct deductions for a funeral insurance/scheme on any social grant awarded for a period of less than twelve (12) months (temporary disability grants), should also note that the deductions will discontinue in December 2016,” he said.
Semeleni said older persons, war veterans or a permanent disability grant and would like to have the premiums for funeral policy/scheme deducted directly from their grant to visit the nearest SASSA office to give permission in writing and in person for these deductions to go through.
He said if they are unable to visit the SASSA office, they can contact SASSA on 0800 60 10 11 or 018 3894191 to make alternative arrangements such as home visits for frail people.