Answer to a question from a reader

Can SASSA give me a one-off advance or loan on an existing grant?

The short answer

You may want to apply for the SRD grant and try to get maintenance from your children's father.

The whole question

Dear Athalie

I am a single mother of two girls who are both on the autism spectrum. We used to live with my mother but she is getting old and wants to move in with my brother. I can't afford to pay the rent by myself, so we are forced to rent a garden cottage on someone else's property. This requires an admin fee and one month's rent as a deposit, which I cannot afford but need to pay in order to move in. 

Can SASSA help me with a once-off advance or loan on an existing grant to pay for this? I don't qualify for a bank loan and I have no family who can help. My children's father has been out of their lives since 2014 and has not been paying maintenance. 

The long answer

I’m afraid that SASSA is very unlikely to give you a once-off advance or loan on an existing grant. The only thing SASSA might give is the R350.00 Social Relief of Distress Grant, which is given when you find yourself in one of the following situations: 

  • you need help while you wait for your children’s grants to be processed

  • a crisis or disaster has occurred (e.g. your house has burnt down) 

  • you do not qualify for a grant, and you are in a desperate situation 

  • you are unable to work for a period of less than six months because you are medically unfit 

  • you are unable to get maintenance from the other parent of your child or children 

  • the breadwinner in the family has died 

  • the breadwinner has been sent to prison for a short time (less than six months) 

  • you have been affected by a disaster, but the area or community in which you live has not been declared a disaster area.

I have bolded SASSA’s point 5 as this obviously applies. But perhaps you should consider going to court to get a maintenance order against the father of your children.

Whatever has happened between you, he is legally obliged to contribute to the maintenance of the children. This includes housing, food and clothing as well as medical expenses. 

These are the steps the Justice Department gives to apply for maintenance:

  • Apply for maintenance at the magistrate's court in the district where you live.

  • If you are in doubt, your local court will tell you at which court to apply for maintenance.

  • Go to the relevant court and complete and submit Form A: Application for a maintenance order (J101).

  • In addition to the completed form, submit proof of your monthly income and expenses, such as receipts for food purchases, electricity and/or rent bill payments.

  • The court will set a date on which you and the respondent (the person whom you wish to pay maintenance) must go to the court.

  • A maintenance officer and an investigator will investigate your claim and look into your circumstances.

  • The court will serve a summons (a letter instructing a person to come to court) on the respondent (the person against whom the claim is brought) to appear in court on a specific date to discuss the matter.

  • The respondent then has a choice between agreeing to pay the maintenance as claimed, or contesting the matter in court.

  • If the respondent agrees to pay the maintenance as claimed, a magistrate will review the relevant documentation. They will then make an order, and may decide to do so without requiring the parties to appear in court.

  • If the person who is allegedly liable to pay maintenance does not consent to the issuance of an order, they must appear in court, where evidence from both parties and their witnesses will be heard.

  • If the court finds the person liable for paying maintenance, it will make an order for the amount of maintenance to be paid. The court will also determine when and how maintenance payments must be made.

  • The court can order maintenance money to be paid in one of the following ways:

    • At the local magistrate's office or any other government office designated for this purpose

    • Into the bank or building society account designated by the person concerned

    • Directly to the person who is entitled to the money

    • By means of an order that directs the employer of the person who is liable for paying maintenance to deduct the maintenance payment directly from the employee’s salary, in accordance with the new Maintenance Act, 1998.

These are the documents you need to bring to court:

  • An identity book (green book with your photo), passport, driver's licence, or immigration permit

  • Certified copies of the children’s birth certificates

  • Three month's bank statements (these must be current)

  • Three month's proof of income (payslip) or the signed letter from the employer confirming your income.

  • Physical/work address of the person responsible for paying the maintenance money.

  • List of your income and expenditure e.g. water and lights bill, till slips for groceries, school expenses; medical and travel receipts, clothing accounts, etc.,

  • Full name of parent/person responsible for paying the maintenance money.

  • Copy of Decree of Divorce (in the case of divorce)

Wishing you the best,

Answered on May 18, 2021, 2:07 p.m.

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