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Social Welfare Division


The provision of welfare services dates back to the colonial era and was largely an effort of civil society organizations. The labour disturbances in the late 1930’s marked the first official form of social assistance emanating from recommendations of the Moyne West India Commission. The Commission drew attention to the fact that it was essential to have a well defined programme of social welfare and that the programme should be part of overall government policy.
It was not until 1938 that the existing services were grouped together for more effective impact and control and in July 1939 the Department of Social Welfare was inaugurated to administer Social Assistance and Old Age Pension. The Social Welfare Division (SWD) has undergone significant modifications in the number and scope of services offered, however its mandate to act as a major social safety net for vulnerable persons and the configuration and manner in which its operations are carried out remain essentially the same. 
The main beneficiaries of the SWD are: 
  • Older persons;
  • Necessitous children;
  • Persons with disabilities;
  • Victims of natural disasters;
  • Other needy persons.
Core Roles and Functions:
The mandate of the SWD is as follows:
  • To provide income support to persons over 65 who satisfy other criteria of income and residence.
  • To provide income support to the disabled, between ages 18 and less than 65, and who satisfy other criteria of income and residence.
  • To provide financial assistance to the infirm and needy.
  • To provide assistance on behalf of children whose parents have died, deserted, or are ill, or imprisoned. 
  • To enhance the quality of life of recipients and other necessitous persons.
  • To ensure the propriety of adoption procedures and the welfare of children so placed. 
Services Provided:
The major grants administered by the Social Welfare Division are governed by the Public Assistance Act Chapter 32:03 and Senior Citizens’ Pension Act Chapter 32:02. In 1996 amendments were made to the Public Assistance Act to introduce the Disability Assistance Grant (DAG) (Act #23 of 1996). This grant was introduced in commemoration of the International Year of the Disabled. There are other services administered by the Social Welfare Division. The full listings are as follows:
  • Senior Citizens’ Pension
  • Public Assistance Grant
  • Disability Assistance Grant
  • General Assistance Grant
  • House Repair 
  • Household Items
  • Medical Equipment
  • Home Help Aid
  • Dietary Grant
  • Clothing Grant
  • Funeral Grant
  • Education Grant
  • Special Child Grant
  • Pharmaceutical
  • House Rent
  • School Supplies
  • Urgent Temporary Assistance
  • Special Achievers 
  • Bus Passes
Criteria for clients to meet to access services/ Eligibility:
Senior Citizens’ Pension
Who should apply?
Senior citizens sixty-five (65) years who are citizens or legally resident in Trinidad and Tobago and whose income does not exceed $3000.00 per month
The person must have been ordinarily resident in Trinidad and Tobago-
i. For a period of twenty years immediately preceding the claim for pension; 
  • For the purposes of computing residence in Trinidad and Tobago any period of temporary absence not exceeding five years in the aggregate, shall not be counted as periods of absence from Trinidad and Tobago.
ii. For a period of fifty years in the aggregate
Payment Schedule
Income BandNew Rate



Disability Assistance Grant

Who Should Apply?
A persons aged 18 years and above who is in the opinion of the Local Board so disabled that he is unable to earn a livelihood and has been certified by a Medical Officer as being so disabled and whose annual income does not exceed $12,000 may apply to this programme.  Such persons must be citizens or legal residents of Trinidad and Tobago and must have been residing in the country for at least three (3) years immediately prior to the date of claim provided that the person did not spend more than six (6) months out of the country during this period. A person who has fulfilled the above criteria but who spent in excess of six (6) months out of the country but who has lived for one continuous year in Trinidad and Tobago preceding the date of application may qualify for Disability Assistance Grant. 
The quantum under this grant is $1,300.00 per month.
Public Assistance Grant
Who should apply?
The Public Assistance Grant aims to provide financial support to meet the needs of necessitous persons who are prevented by some disability from earning a living. It is normally paid to the head of the household whose needs shall be deemed to include those of his dependents.
Public Assistance is also paid to necessitous children where a parent of the child is hospitalized, imprisoned or has deserted. 
Public Assistance is also paid to a person who is the spouse of a person serving a term of imprisonment or who was cohabiting with a person of the opposite sex for a period of at least three years before the latter began serving a term of imprisonment and is unable to earn a living due to caring for a child of the family.
Public Assistance is also paid to a parent or guardian on behalf of a child who is severely disabled and where the household income is deemed inadequate. Public Assistance is also paid to a single parent who is forced to stay home to care for a child who is severely disabled where the household income is deemed inadequate.
General Assistance Grants
Who should apply?
This programme under the Ministry of the People and Social Development offers a range of grants to nationals who are in dire need of temporary assistance.  These grants primarily targets clients of the service delivery units of the Ministry of the People and Social Development and other needy persons. The programme also allows support to needy individuals in crisis and emergency situations or who are victims of natural or man-made disasters. Applicants will be required to provide estimates of items from recognized establishments along with other supporting documents.
These grants are as follows:
a) Housing Assistance - This grant provides assistance to clients to purchase building materials for construction or repair of their homes. A one-off grant of $15,000.00 is given to persons to access materials from a reputable hardware. In times of disaster the amount given under this grant is $20,000.00.
b) Household Items – This grant can be accessed by needy persons to purchase household items such as stoves, refrigerators and furniture. This grant can also be accessed by victims of natural or man-made disasters and is accessed only once in a three year period.   
The items offered under this initiative are limited to the following basic household items;
  • Bed and mattress
  • Stove
  • Refrigerator 
  • Washing machine
  • Wardrobes
  • Chest of Drawers
  • Living Room set
  • Dining Room set
c) Medical Equipment – Under this grant needy persons can qualify for wheelchairs, commodes, special beds, dentures etc. The amount allowed under this grant is $7,500.00.
d) Domestic Help – This grant facilitates the provision of part-time domestic help for three (3) months in the first instance but not more than six (6) months if deemed necessary to clients who are unable to perform normal household chores, for example, whilst recuperating from surgery, and are unable to afford the cost of domestic assistance. The amount paid to a care giver is $1,800.00 per month. 
e) Dietary Grant – This grant of $600.00 per month assists clients who suffer illnesses which require special diets, for example, renal patients and clients with uncontrolled diabetes. It is to be noted that this is only offered where the person has to purchase food and other such items that is outside of what they would normally purchase and where they are unable to meet the cost of these items. This service is only extended to persons who are on grants of Ministry of the People and Social Development. This grant is made on a continuous basis as prescribed by a medical practitioner. 
f) Clothing Grant – Currently available to persons at $500.00 per person to a maximum of four persons per family. This grant provides assistance to needy persons, victims of disaster to purchase essential items of clothing. Applicants can access this grant only once every two years. This grant be limited to the number of persons living in the household. 
g) Funeral Grant – This grant of $7000.00 is intended to assist in the burial of deceased persons who have no one willing and/or financially able to undertake the cost of burial. This grant can be issued to needy families of the deceased under two circumstances:
i. In instances before the funeral takes place and accompanied by the appropriate documents to support the claims, that is, death certificate and estimates from funeral home, or
ii. It can be issued as a reimbursement for the costs incurred for burials undertaken within three months following death. Claims must be justifiable and accompanied by the appropriate supporting documents, that is, death certificate and bills outlining expenditure.
Accordingly, this grant will not be entertained where funeral arrangements have already been made and where the cost is in excess of this amount by more than $3,000. 
h) Special Child Grant – This grant targets children with a severe disorder. It provides assistance to parents who are unable to meet the financial cost of caring for a special child. The grant can be accessed for children under the age of eighteen and is given for a one year period, followed by a review. This grant will be paid to parents of special children where their income is deemed inadequate. The amount allowed under this grant is $800.00 per month per child.
NB. A child on whose behalf Public Assistance is paid will not be eligible for this grant.
i) Pharmaceutical Grant –– This grant of is provided for the purchase of prescriptive medication only if drugs are not available under the C-Dap Programme or at the Public Dispensaries. Suitable persons are allowed a three month supply up to $2,500.00 and are paid once per year.
j) House Rent – This grant is used to assist clients who are temporarily unable to pay their rent, or to assist clients who need new accommodation and are unable to meet initial payments. Persons who benefit from this grant are usually on the verge of eviction, fire victims and victims of domestic violence. The amount allowed under this grant is $7,500.00 to cover a three month period.
  • School Supplies Grant- Grant given to children who are attending primary and secondary schools whose books/uniform were destroyed in a natural or man-made disasters, assistance will be provided as follows:
  1. $1,000.00 for children attending Secondary School

  2. $750.00 for children attending primary school.

k) Education Grant – For children who are attending secondary schools and where the Public Assistance and/or the Food Card is the only source of income and who are unable to meet the varying cost associated with the following:
  1. Transportation (Where there is no public transportation system available)
  2. Cater for any special needs associated with school attendance where government agencies are not already providing such assistance. Such needs must be verified.
The amount allowable is $500.00 per month per child. 
l) Urgent Temporary Assistance (Emergency assistance) – This grant is given to nationals in emergency cases who are in dire need of financial assistance and is paid in cash. The amount allowed is $300.00 per person.
What does this programme aim to achieve?
The aim of the programme is to provide assistance to relieve the immediate need of persons in crisis situations.
Who should apply?
  • Recipients of welfare and persons who are in dire need of temporary assistance;
  • Victims of natural disasters;
  • Victims of Domestic Violence.