What is the highest paid social security benefit in SA?

The legislation provides for a means-tested old age grant for a permanent resident of South Africa aged 60 and over. A worker is entitled to an old age grant (means-tested) if his/her annual income is below a certain amount. The old-age pension is 1890 Rand for pensioners aged 60-74 and 1910 Rand for pensioners aged 75 or older. If the pensioner resides in a care facility under contract to the state for more than three months, the pension is reduced to 25% of the maximum amount.

A constant attendance allowance of 410 rands per month is also paid if the person receiving the old age grant requires the constant attendance of others to perform daily functions.

sources: §10 of the Social Assistance Act 13 of 2004 (last amended in 2010)


Self-employed do not have access to the contributory old-age pension. However, they are eligible for the Old Person’s Grant, also known as State Old Age Pension, which is paid to people who are 60 years or older and are not receiving any other social assistance benefit. It is a means-tested social assistance benefit. Below are the conditions to access Old Person’s Grant:

  1. Be a South African citizen or permanent resident;

  2. Live in South Africa;

  3. Not receiving any other social grant;

  4. Not under care in a state institution;

  5. Not earning more than R78,120 p/a (if single) or R 156,240 (if married).

  6. Not have assets worth more than R1,115,400 (if single) or R2,230,800 (if married).


Survivors’ benefits are payable to workers as provided under the Unemployment Insurance Act. The employee must have accumulated credits at the time of death. One credit (one day of paid leave) is earned for every five completed days of employment, and up to 365 days of paid leave may be accumulated in the four years before application for the survivor benefit. The accumulated credits may be used for sickness, adoption, unemployment, and survivor benefits. On the death of a worker, the spouse or life partner can claim dependant’s benefits. The dependent children can also claim this benefit if there is no spouse or life partner or if the spouse or life partner does not claim the benefit within 18 months of the worker’s death (or even later on showing the just cause).

38% to 60% of the deceased’s daily earnings, depending on the level of earnings, is paid for up to 365 days. Any credits used for sickness, adoption, and unemployment is deducted from this payment. Lower-income insured persons receive a higher percentage of their earnings and higher-income receive a lower percentage.

Daily earnings are calculated by multiplying the deceased worker’s last monthly earnings by 12 (or last weekly earnings by 52), and then dividing by 365. If the deceased’s earnings fluctuated significantly, the calculation is based on the deceased’s average monthly earnings for the six months before the date of death.

Source: §14 & 30-36 of the Unemployment Insurance Act, 2001 (last amended in 2017); ISSA Country Profile for South Africa, 2017


Following the death of a contributor to the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), the survivors can claim dependant’s benefits from the UIF. Those eligible include a spouse, life partner, guardian, child of the deceased contributor.

The survivor must apply within six months of the death of the contributor. Dependent children under the age of 21 years are entitled to benefits if there is no surviving spouse or life partner. Private companies may have their own collective agreements regarding death benefits.


The above laws provide for invalidity benefit in the case of non-occupational accident/injury/disease resulting in permanent invalidity. If a citizen or permanent resident aged 18-59 years is assessed with temporary disability for more than six months, that person is entitled to the means-tested disability benefit of up to 1890 rand per month. The benefit is considered permanent if a citizen is assessed as medically disabled for more than 12 months.

A Constant-attendance allowance of 410 rands per month is paid to the person receiving the disability grant requires the constant attendance of others to perform daily functions.

Source: §9 of the Unemployment Insurance Act, 2001 (last amended in 2003); ISSA Country Profile for South Africa, 2017


The maximum value of the Disability Grant is R1,890 per month. In order to qualify for this grant, a person must be between the age of 18 and 59 years. They must be found medically unfit for work by a medical officer because of a mental or physical disability. There is also a means test. There are various criteria in addition, including being a South African citizen or permanent resident or refugee.

  • Unemployment Insurance Act, 2001
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