Answer to a question from a reader

Can SASSA reclaim grant money because I earned a wage of R1,300

The short answer

SASSA can demand repayment for the period that your income exceeded the qualifying amount of the grant.

The whole question

Dear Athalie

SASSA has said I must repay the child support grant money that I received for my first child because I was employed at the time I received the grant. What can I do?

The long answer

It is certainly very difficult to support your two children and your pensioner mother on a wage of R1,300, but unfortunately, SASSA is within its rights to demand that the money be repaid for the period that your income exceeded the qualifying amount. The rule is that a grant beneficiary must inform SASSA when their income increases beyond the qualifying amount. If SASSA has now established through your application for your second child that you do not qualify for the grant and that you did not inform them of starting to work when you were getting the child support grant for your first child, it can demand that you repay the monies you received in error. (SASSA is in contact with the UIF so can establish whether someone was working or not.)

Although this seems very hard on you, in your circumstances, you can appreciate that SASSA cannot do otherwise than enforce their own rules. They cannot make an exception for you, because you are struggling to support your family on a small wage, when there are so many people struggling to support their families, just like you. They cannot forgive your debt because it would open the door for others to claim the child support grant when they are working, without consequences.  

You can write a letter to the Minister of Social Development within 90 days explaining your difficult situation and your local SASSA office must submit it to the Independent Tribunal for Social Assistance Appeals (ITSAA). But because of the reasons I have laid out above, I don’t think there is really a chance that such an appeal could succeed.

Perhaps your best bet would be to negotiate the best possible rate for you to repay the money. Below are the SASSA contact numbers and email address:

SASSA Toll Free Call centre on: 0800 60 10 11
SASSA Head Office on: 012 400 2322
Email SASSA Head Office at:

You could ask an organisation like The Black Sash, which gives free paralegal advice and has a lot of experience with social grant problems, for help in negotiating the rate of repayment. You can contact them here:

Black Sash


Helpline: 072 66 33 739

Street Address: Black Sash National Office, Elta House, 3 Caledonian Road, Mowbray.

Tel: +27 21 686 6952

Wishing you the best,

Answered on May 19, 2023, 9:55 a.m.

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