01.04.01. Social protection schemes | South Africa

01.04.01. Social protection schemes | South Africa

12 Aug 2022

Social protection schemes implemented by the government

South Africa’s welfare system has been described as ‘well-established’, distributing over 17 million social grants on a monthly basis (GroundUp, 2016). Grants are administered by the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) who is responsible for providing support to those vulnerable to poverty and in need of State support, including older people, persons with disabilities and children (GroundUp, 2016).

As of 1st October 2018, the amounts payable for social security grants are tabled below (table 9). Annual increases are usually given for these grants.

Table 9: Social security grants paid by the South African government (2018)

Grant Amount (ZAR)
Older person’s grant

(old age pension)

Older person’s grant

(old age pension where person is older than 75 years)

Disability 1700
War veteran’s grant 1720
Grant-in-aid 410
Child Support 410
Foster child grant 960
Care-dependency grant 1700

By the end of December 2018, the South African government has spent a total of ZAR17,731,402.00 on social grants across all grant types and all nine provinces (SASSA, 2018). The bulk of these funds are distributed as child support grants (i.e., ZAR12,440,728.00), followed by old age (pension) grants (ZAR3,521,733.00) and disability grants (ZAR1,058,263.00).

In the context of widespread poverty and unemployment, access to social grants is important to many economically vulnerable South Africans. The latest General Household Survey shows that for the year 2018, social grants (excluding pension) are the second most common source of income (45.2%) for households, nationally (StatsSA, 2019a). Despite the availability of social grants being critical for the survival of many South Africans, this reality (i.e., widespread poverty and growing dependency of families on State grants) poses an economic threat to the country as it represents a decrease in an economically active population that can contribute to the country’s revenue as taxpayers.

Social protection schemes implemented by international development partners or donors

There was no information found that confirmed whether South Africa receives any social protection schemes from international development partners. Organisations like UNICEF work with the country’s Department of Social Development to guide on how social protection programmes can be implemented. However, the literature reviewed indicates that these schemes are primarily funded and implemented through the country’s public sector (to qualifying members of the public) and private sector (to private members or clients). Moreover, social protection implemented in South Africa is estimated at 58.5% of households covered (World Bank, 2015 as cited in EMERALD, 2017).


EMERALD. (2017). Moving towards Universal Health Coverage for Mental Disorders in South Africa.

GroundUp. (2016). Everything you need to know about social grants. https://www.groundup.org.za/article/everything-you-need-know-about-social-grants_820/

SASSA. (2018). A Statistical Summary of Social Grants In South Africa.

StatsSA. (2019a). General Household Survey 2018. Available from: https://www.statssa.gov.za/?p=12180