Social Relief of Distress | Western Cape Government

Social Relief of Distress


Stressed mom with baby

Social Relief of Distress is a temporary grant that you can apply for if you need assistance when you're struggling to meet you or your family’s basic needs. 

To qualify, you mustn’t be getting money or any other form of help (such as food vouchers or food parcels) from any other organisation, and nor may anyone in your household already be receiving a grant.

You may qualify for the Social Relief of Distress if you comply with 1 or more of the following conditions:

  • You’ve applied for a grant which hasn't yet been granted.
  • You’ve appealed against the suspension of your grant.
  • The person in your family who earns the money (the breadwinner) has passed away, gone to prison, treatment centre or hospital.
  • You’re supposed to be getting maintenance payments, but you’re not getting them and you can't find the person who is supposed to pay.
  • You’ve been affected by a disaster (for example, fire, tornado, or flood) and the area in which you live hasn’t yet been declared a disaster area.
  • You’re medically unfit to work for less than 6 months (if for more than 6 months, you can apply for a disability grant).

You must be a citizen of South Africa and living in South Africa at the time of applying for the grant and you must be able to prove that your family can’t meet its basic needs.

The amount of the social relief of distress grant isn’t allowed to be more than the maximum adult grant. The amount for each child isn’t allowed to be more than the child support grant. The grant is usually for 3 months only, but in exceptional cases can be extended for another 3 months. Money for transport can also be given to you, if the social worker recommends it, for the following needs:

  • You need transport for medical treatment and no other transport arrangements can be made.
  • You have to travel to a place where you'll get a job and then no longer be dependent on this award or any other grant.

caring familyHow can you apply for the Social Relief of Distress grant

You can apply for Social Relief of Distress grant by filling in an application form at your nearest regional offices. You don’t need to pay anything to make the application.

You’ll be interviewed, have your fingerprints taken, and given information on whether you qualify. You’ll also need to show certain documents and provide some information, including:

  • Your South African identity document (ID), which must be barcoded, or your birth certificate, and the same for each child.
  • Information about your marital status:
    • If you’re single, an affidavit stating that you are single.
    • If you’re married, your marriage certificate.
    • If you’re divorced, your divorce order.
    • If your spouse is dead, your spouse's death certificate.
  • Information about your income and assets:
    • If you’re employed, your wage certificate.
    • If you're unemployed, your Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) "blue book" or discharge certificate from your previous employer.
    • If you have a private pension, proof of the private pension.
    • If you have a bank account, your bank statements for 3 consecutive months.
    • If you have investments, information on the interest and dividends you earn.
  • Information supporting the reason for your crisis:
    • If your maintenance isn't being paid, proof from the Magistrate's Court that maintenance hasn't been paid, and how you have looked for the person who is supposed to pay.
    • If you are temporarily disabled, a medical report.
    • If the breadwinner is no longer earning, record of their admission to prison, treatment centre or hospital.

When you make the application, you can say how you'd like the money to be paid. The money can be paid out in cash on specific days at a Pay Point, or you can get the money paid electronically into your bank account. Remember that normal bank charges can apply to any money going in and out of your bank account. You can decide to change the payment method at any time by filling in a form at a welfare office, but the change will only happen a month later.

Woman hanging up washingHow long will it take before you get the grant?

It will take about 30 working days for your application to be processed and checked and either approved or denied. If your application is denied you’ll get a letter explaining why it’s been refused and how you can appeal.

If it’s approved you’ll start receiving payments within 3 months. You can track your application and find out when you can expect payment by calling the toll-free SASSA call centre on 0800 601 011.

Social Relief of Distress is issued monthly for a maximum period of 3 months. An extension of a further 3 months may be granted in exceptional cases.

General enquiries:

Western Cape regional office: 021 469 0200
Toll-free helpline: 0800 601 011 for information on:

  • Pay-out dates.
  • Qualifying rules for all government grants.
  • District office addresses and contact numbers.
  • For help with what has happened to your application.
  • How you can also report any fraud or corruption.


The content on this page was last updated on 20 December 2018