What and why
Governments should take concrete steps to establish a comprehensive and inclusive registration and application process where all potential beneficiaries are able to submit their personal data and information, or have this collected, without facing barriers or discrimination. This requires simplified registration processes, such as online digital registration platforms that reduce physical barriers. Where physical registration is required, one-stop shops that allow applicants to submit and complete all required documents in one place at one time reduce both time and physical barriers. A robust registration process that collects the right personal data from applicants, verifies its accuracy and then assesses compliance with eligibility is key to ensure resources for social protection are used as intended. When governments can quickly and effectively collect and process key information about potential beneficiaries, they can ensure resources are directed to the right people at the right time.
The type of personal information required and how it is obtained depends on the scheme selection criteria. For example, when information on income is not available through tax registries, schemes with poverty based selection criteria require governments to initiate the collection of information on household consumption through regular household income and expenditure surveys. Schemes with lifecycle-based selection criteria linked to age, residency, birth or death, may require those eligible to submit one or two pieces of personal identification to confirm their age, residency, or other life events. Where civil registries and vital statistics are robust, the information required for life cycle schemes may be collected automatically. Schemes with disability-based selection criteria often require prospective beneficiaries to participate in a disability assessment through which the government collects information on work capacity and level of disability. Finally, contributory schemes that require employment in the formal sector often complete registration through employers when employment is supported with a formal contract.
Regardless of the type of scheme, governments should ensure that registration processes are accessible, robust, transparent and auditable as described above. Ways forward to achieve this include:
- Using appropriate technologies and data fields to authenticate and protect personal identity. For example, as they are unique to individuals, biometric identifiers can be used to verify personal identity, thereby guarding against identity theft and fraudulent use of identity documents to obtain social protection benefits.
- Making registration available online to limit costs associated with travel and administration.
- Ensuring that physical registration points remain available to reach those who do not have or wish to use the Internet. Physical registration points must be near applicants and supported with quality infrastructure to meet the diverse accessibility needs of persons with disability.
- Establishing both electronic and physical one-stop shops, or single windows, where applicants can complete all documents required for registration. This requires various institutions and ministries to collaborate at the local level and should be tailored to the needs of persons with disabilities and minority language groups.
During registration, governments should ensure that the information collected can be used to promote inclusion. For example, gender-specific and disaggregated information on care obligations, access to services (e.g., health, family planning), mobility, credential requirements and pregnancy should be collected, whilst taking into account gender-sensitive issues such as men controlling women’s identification documents. The initial identification of disability should capture the diversity of challenges faced by persons with disabilities, rather than focusing on functional limitations. Specific attention should also be paid to children with disabilities and be disaggregated by gender. While gender and disability may not form part of eligibility requirements, governments will need this information for subsequent analysis, monitoring of impact, and to inform additional inclusive programming or responses.
Governments must safeguard collected personal information. As such, governments need to ensure that data protection policies are in place and enforced. Prospective beneficiaries must be informed of how their personal data will be used.
It is critical that governments put in place clear standards and guidelines to ensure personal data and supporting documentation are verified through an objective assessment process. Where possible, governments should invest in digitizing this process through approaches that may include:
- E-citizen interfaces and mobile applications that allow prospective beneficiaries to upload required documentation and follow the result of the selection process.
- Electronic queuing management systems to reduce congestion and create order, acknowledging factors of exclusion, such as gender and disability, and prioritizing people experiencing vulnerability.
- Automatic notifications to beneficiaries upon enrolment, using SMS and e-mails.
- Built-in privacy functions such as electronic signatures for informed consent to support enrolment processes, which may require sharing information with a third party, such as a payment provider.
Assessing eligibility for universal child or old-age benefit schemes is relatively simple and limited to, for example, verification of the age and residency of the applicant. Beneficiaries can then remain enrolled in the scheme until a given age, or other life event as determined by the eligibility criteria. Poverty targeted schemes, such as those using proxy means tests, require a verification of household-level information on estimated consumption. The validity of this assessment depends on the accuracy of the information collected and how much time has passed since its collection.
Determining eligibility for a disability benefit often requires an in-person assessment. During such assessment, it is important that governments move away from assessing disability solely based on the degree of impairment or domain of functional limitation. Instead, governments should ensure they assess the extent to which social and environmental factors affect the individual’s ability to carry out their daily activities, irrespective of their impairment. This approach is also aligned with the definition of disability in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD). Box 6-1 describes good practices in the implementation of disability assessments.
BOX 6‑1 Good practices in the implementation of disability assessments
- Provide continuous training to assessors and adequate remuneration to attract the high-quality capacity necessary to conduct effective and accurate assessments.
- Ensure medical records are verified and make them available to medical assessors, with consent from the applicant.
- Ensure accessibility through on-demand assessment mechanisms, thereby enabling persons with a disability to access them at any time.
- Conduct assessments near applicants’ residence to reduce costs in accessing the system.
- Assessments should be well-coordinated to reduce the number of journeys required to complete assessments, through combining social, physical and medical assessments.
- Ensure assessment centres are physically accessible to everyone with an impairment. Similarly, provide other services such as interpretation, including for those with hearing impairments.
- Always treat applicants with dignity and respect their right to privacy. They should actively participate in the assessment.
- Provide high quality and disability-sensitive communications about the disability assessment process, in order to build awareness of the existence of the mechanism. Clear communication will also manage expectations and may deter those who are not eligible from participating in assessments.
- Closely monitor the decisions of assessors to ensure processes are followed objectively and transparently.
- Establish an accessible grievance mechanism to allow people to appeal the results of assessments.
- Ensure that applicants can be directed towards receiving further support that may be identified during the assessment, for example through social work, social care or health systems.