Social relief of distress is a short term temporary provision to help persons in such a serious material need that they are unable to cater for their families’ most basic needs.
This could be because of any of the following factors:

you need assistance while you wait for your children’s grants to be processed

a crisis or disaster has happened (e.g. your house has burnt down)

you are not eligible for a grant, and you are in a desperate situation

you can not work for a period of less than six month because you are medically unfit

you can not get maintenance from the other parent of your child or children

the breadwinner in the family has passed away

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.

What do you get?
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 temporarily usually for up to three months, which may also be extended to six months.

What you should do

Apply for social relief of distress at your nearest South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) office.

Submit your application with the following documents:

your 13-digit bar-coded identity document and your children’s birth certificates.

if your identity document and/or a birth certificate are not available:

an affidavit commissioned by a Justice of the Peace. The affidavit must have a clause which shows that provision of incorrect or inaccurate information will result in prosecution in terms of Section 21 of the Social Assistance Act, 2004.

a sworn statement by a trustworthy person who knows the applicant and the child. This may be from a councillor, traditional leader, social worker or minister of religion.

proof that an application for a birth certificate or identity document has been filled with the Department of Home Affairs.

where applicable, a temporary identity document issued by the Department of Home Affairs.

a baptismal certificate.

a road to health clinic card.

a school report.

please note: No application can be processed without the sworn statement/affidavit.

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 no income

have a short-term medical disability.

How long does it take

Your application will be processed immediately.

Once your application is submitted, it will be checked 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.

Remember to carry 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 condition after you have received the grant for three months, you may apply to have the grant extended for another three months.

How much does it cost

The service is free.

Forms to complete

The application form is not available online, but you can get it at your nearest SASSA office.

Who to contact

South African Social Security Agency (SASSA)