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Technology to speed up disability grant applications

Written by Allison Cooper

SASSA and GovChat have launched a pilot system to improve service delivery to disability grant applicants.

 Visiting the South African Social Security Agency’s (SASSA) offices multiple times and waiting in long queues to apply for a disability grant will soon be a thing of the past.

This is thanks to a new online system that will enable applicants to book their medical assessment from the comfort of their own home.

Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu recently launched the pilot phase of SASSA’s disability grant medical assessment booking system in Cape Town. The system will be piloted regionally before being rolled out nationally. 

Using the new system, disability grant applicants will be able to download forms and book their medical assessment online.

“The online booking system forms part of SASSA’s strategy to improve its services through the efficient use of digital technology,” says Minister Zulu.

Cost savings

The system will also cut down on the amount of time the application process takes and will ensure cost savings for SASSA and the applicants, she adds.

Minister Zulu explains that during the current application process for a disability grant, the applicant needs to visit their local SASSA office about three times.

“The online booking system will significantly reduce the number of visits to the SASSA contact points – excluding a visit to a medical assessment site or health facility – from three to one.”

This is because the booking system not only allows applicants to complete their application form, but also enables them to book a date and time for their medical assessment.

Once they have registered their medical assessment appointment on the system, they can choose their preferred clinic or hospital.

Depending on the availability of the documentation required, the application may be completed at the first visit, saving both SASSA and clients time and money.

“I have no doubt that the system will simplify the assessment process for persons with disabilities, reducing the need to submit information multiple times and the number of face-to-face assessments,” says the Minister.

The disability grant reaches 997 000 beneficiaries monthly and is the third largest grant after the old age grant and child support grant.

“Online booking will thus also address challenges associated with long queues at local offices and ensure that SASSA complies with Coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations,” she adds.

Collaboration with GovChat

Government’s official citizen engagement platform GovChat has been working with SASSA over the past year to assist the agency with the COVID-19 social relief of distress grant.

This partnership has assisted over 4.9 million people who applied for the grant digitally and didn’t have to stand in long queues.

The new online disability grant booking system integrates with SASSA’s Electronic Medical Assessment Statistics Template system, enabling local offices to create an electronic schedule.

Applicants can access the system from their cellphone or computer to make a booking for a medical assessment.

The booking system is linked to the available doctor’s schedule at the applicant’s selected healthcare facility.

Applicants can also download the forms that they need to complete as part of the application process.

Once a medical assessment booking has been made, the applicant will receive an SMS confirming their medical assessment date, time and venue.

They can also enquire online about their booking and screening outcome information and which documents to complete, cancel their appointment due to unforeseen circumstances and rebook an alternative date.

GovChat Chief Executive Officer Eldrid Jordaan says GovChat and SASSA aim to jointly tackle the challenges that the most vulnerable experience.

“Over the past year we have seen the important role that fit-for-purpose technology can play in assisting the most vulnerable to get quality service from government,” he says.

Special grant ends

The COVID-19 social relief of distress grant came to an end on 30 April, with no new applications being accepted after this date.

However, all applicants that were approved but had not yet received the grant will still be paid.

Those whose applications were declined for February to March 2021 can appeal the decision by going to https://SRD.sassa.gov.za and follow the links. If you do not appeal, the declined application will not be reconsidered. The appeal period closes on 31 May 2021.   

For more information and to access the disability grant medical assessment booking system, go to www.sassa.gov.za/Pages/Disability-Grant.aspx