SASSA extends grant to 15-year-olds

WHILE other provinces are still waiting the South African Social Security Agency in Mpumalanga has already introduced the long- awaited "year extension" for child support grants.

WHILE other provinces are still waiting the South African Social Security Agency in Mpumalanga has already introduced the long- awaited "year extension" for child support grants.

Authorities said this week that since last month they had increased the maximum period in which a child would get a grant from the previous "ceiling" age of 14 to at least 15 years this year.

"The year extension is an ongoing process in which by January 1 2011 and 2012 the maximum year will increase to ages 16 and 17," the agency's spokesperson Senzeni Ngubeni said.

"So we encourage all citizens to register all eligible children from the deserving households," he said.

The age extension was approved by cabinet in October last year following the realisation that more than 2million children between the ages of 15 and 18 continued to live under harsh conditions of poverty.

The roll-out of this initiative forms the basis of our resolution for the new year to intensify the implementation of all our programmes in a quest to minimise poverty.

Ngubeni said in conjunction with the department of social development his agency had managed to gradually increase the age limit during the past few years.

"This partnership created a progressive approach to curb the large number of children who fell out of the system because they have reached the ceiling age of 15.

"More than 150000 children were affected yearly in the province, and this caused both undesired effects and unintended consequences of interrupting the flow of much- needed benefits to the families with children who really need this form of social grant."

He said only children born on or after October 1, 1994, are eligible to apply. "We call on parents or guardians of children whose grants lapsed in October and November 2009 when they turned 15 to visit the nearest branches."

The agency is under the Department of Social Development and is mandated to ensure the provision of a comprehensive social security service to curb poverty.

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