Sassa Covid-19 R350 SRD grant
(Gallo Images)
  • The R350 Social Relief of Distress Grant (SRD), made available to unemployed South Africans during the protracted lockdown period, has been extended for a further three months.
  • Registered beneficiaries who have already received payment in the past do not need to reapply but are encouraged to make sure their profiles are up to date.
  • But just because you’re registered doesn’t mean you’ll automatically be paid in the months ahead.
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The R350 Social Relief of Distress Grant (SRD) administered by the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) has been extended for a further three months to provide financial relief to those unemployed during lockdown. Recipients already registered on the system do not need to reapply.

After more than R16 billion was paid to approximately 6.5 million monthly recipients since May last year, the grant recently expired in January 2021.

But during his State of the Nation Address on Thursday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed that the grant, would be extended due to ongoing socioeconomic pressures resulting from lockdown regulations.

Sassa’s administrative systems were put under immense pressure due to the sheer volume of applications last year. Online systems were overwhelmed, and applicants cried foul over “unfair” rejections. Facing fierce public pressure, the agency implemented an appeal process which sought to revaluate applications on a case-by-case basis.

READ | Covid R350 grants: Millions rejected, but only 10 people are dealing with all the appeals

The latest extension takes both the application and appeal process into consideration, with Sassa clarifying that persons already registered on the system – those who have been paid in the last nine months or have already lodged an appeal – would not need to reapply. If the applicant’s contact information or residential address has changed, the profile will, however, need to be updated via the SRD’s online portal.

In any event, this extension does not require any SRD beneficiary to access local Sassa offices. The agency is desperately trying to minimise queues and human contact at its offices, following the abrupt expiration of Temporary Disability Grants which caused chaos at Sassa sites.

Similarly, the agency has further advised all recipients who collected their grants at the South African Post Office to open bank accounts and update the deposit information through the SRD portal.

While applicants do not need to reapply, Sassa has stressed that being on the system is no guarantee of payment during the extension period. Instead, the agency will continue to assess applications on a month-to-month basis, as has been done throughout the SRD’s existence.

“Every application will be validated monthly as it has been the case, and if approved will be paid,” Sassa noted in a statement in reaction to the announcement delivered by Ramaphosa.

The appeal window, which was initially due to lapse on 28 February, will also be extended. Registered applicants, who are rejected from receiving the R350 grant over the next three months, can lodge appeals if they feel that they’ve been unfairly denied. Applicants who have already lodged repeals do not need to re-appeal.

Sassa is still dealing with a backlog of appeals but has assured applicants who have been approved – but not yet paid in January – that payments via the post office, direct deposits and money transfers to cell phones would still be honoured.

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