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Work and Income New Zealand

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There is a range of income support available for young people whether you are working, studying, looking for work or under 18 and living independently from your family.


This information is just a brief outline to give you an idea of what may be available to you, and both the Work and Income and Studylink websites have heaps more information and call centre folks to help you out.
Benefit entitlements may vary depending on your circumstances, such as your age, where you live, if you have a partner or children and whether or not you work or study.

When filling out Work and Income forms it is important to answer every question honestly. If you make a mistake cross it out, rewrite the answer and sign next to it. Always make sure that you have all of the information and proof that is asked for, such as ID, bank statements, medical certificates, and earnings summaries. All of these things need to be the original documents – Work and Income cannot accept photocopies or faxes. The more prepared you are for you appointment with the things that you need, the quicker your benefit will be granted. It is also important to make an appointment to see a case manager before you go in to Work and Income. If you just drop in they may be booked up for the day and unable to see you. Be on time for the appointment, otherwise you may miss out and have to re-book. You can have a support person attend appointments with you, whether that be a family member, friend or social worker. For most benefits you have to be 18 or over and have lived in NZ continuously for two years or more, although there are some exceptions to this.


Student Allowance:

This is for people who are studying in an approved full time course.Your parents income is also taken into account and needs to be under the levels below to qualify for student allowance if you are under 25:

$75,269.48 before tax if you live away from home to study or
$69,081.48 before tax if you live at home (as of the 01/01/2008)

The rates vary slightly if your parents support other students or live apart from each other. Usually both parents income is tested even if your parents are separated or don’t live in NZ. To be assessed on one parent’s income you need to be able to prove that you are completely independent from the other parent if they are still alive, or the other parent is in prison or a psychiatric hospital.


There is also an independent circumstances student allowance where your parent’s income is not tested if you can show:

Family breakdown where they cannot support you

You have been (or are) a ward of the state or court, or are an orphan, and haven't lived with someone acting as a parent for at least 2 years

If you are over 25 then your parents income is not assessed, however if you have a partner their income may affect your student allowance.

When you get a student allowance you automatically qualify for an accommodation benefit if you live away from home. The rates vary depending on what area you live in.


Independent Youth Benefit:

For people under 18 who are orphaned or cut off from their family due to family breakdown.

Unemployment benefit:

This is for people who are looking for work. To receive this benefit you have to be actively looking for and available to start work.


Sickness Benefit:

This is available for people who have had to stop work or reduce work because of injury or illness.


Invalids benefit:

For people with an illness or injury that is long term.


Domestic Purposes Benefit:

For single parents/caregivers of children.


Extra Help:

There are also extra supplements available. You may qualify for some of these even if you are not on a benefit but may be on a low income.


Accommodation Supplement:

Help to pay rent, board or a mortgage.


Disability allowance:

Help to pay for ongoing medical costs related to a disability. This can also cover counselling costs. The application for this allowance must be supported by your doctor.

Community Services Card:

For people with low incomes, gives discounts on doctors and prescription fees and even at the movies.


Young Parent Childcare Payment:

Extra help with childcare for parents under 18.


Work Start Grant:

If you are about to start work (15 hours a week or more) and need help with things related to starting work.



Other Help:

Sometimes Work and Income can assist with immediate and essential needs, such as food, emergency dental or medical payments, help with bond for a flat, or essential items like a washing machine or fridge. Some of this needs to be paid back to Work and Income, and is assessed based on your level of need. The assessment generally covers a cash asset test (you need to show from your bank statements that you do not have the money and are on a low income), an assessment on how much you have contributed to your situation (e.g. if you ask for help with food because you have spent all your money on going to a concert you may not get the support) and whether the item or thing is immediate and essential and whether you have tried all other options to support yourself (e.g. asking family).  There is a limit to how much other help you are allowed in a year.