Frequently Asked Questions

How to apply for Social Relief of Distress?

Social relief of distress is temporary provision of assistance intended for persons in such a dire material need that they are unable to meet their families’ most basic needs. Who can get social relief of distress?You can get social relief of distress from the government if you are in a crisis situation. This could be due to the following factors:

  • You need help while you wait for the children’s grants to be processed by government.
  • 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 because you are medically unfit – this means you are sick for less than six months.
  • You are unable to get maintenance from the other parent of the 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.

The Social Relief of Distress may be in the form of a food parcel or a voucher to buy food. Some provinces give this assistance in the form of cash. Social Relief of Distress is given for a short time only – usually for up to three months, and sometimes for six months.

Apply for social relief of distress at your nearest Social Security office. Submit your application with the following documents:

  • our 13-digit bar-coded identity document and you children’s birth certificates. If you do not have an identity document and birth certificates, an affidavit from your local police station, chief, councillor or religious leader may be enough proof.
  • Show proof that you: have applied for a grant have had an emergency (e.g. provide a police report that your house burnt down) have tried to get maintenance have no other support are married, divorced, or single have a short-term medical disability.

Social Assistance Act, 2004 (Act 13 of 2004)

Service standard

Your application will be processed immediately. Once your application is submitted, it will be assessed for credibility and your genuine need for the service. Even if you do not have all the documents, you will get your first month’s food parcel, voucher or cash without them. Remember to take all the documents to the officer before the second month’s payment is due. If you do not, you may not get your second and third month’s food parcel, voucher or cash. If there is no change in your circumstances after you have received the grant for three months, you may apply to have the grant extended for another three months. The service is free.