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Jobs, benefits & flats

Applying and qualifying for benefits

When your payments will start

When will my benefit start?

Social Security Act 2018, Sched 2 (definitions of “ceased” employment, and “non-entitlement period”), ss 225, 297(1), 438(2)(e), 311, 313, 314, 315, 316, 440

Your benefit will start on the latest of the following dates:

  • when you become entitled to the benefit
  • when you finished work (if you were working), or
  • when Work and Income received your application.

However, there will usually be a “stand-down” period of either one or two weeks before your payments start.

If the written application process begins within 20 working days after you first contacted Work and Income (for example, by phoning them on the 0800 559 009 line), your application will be treated as if it had been received on the date of that first contact.

To calculate when you finished work, Work and Income will take into account any holiday pay, any pay given instead of notice, and any accumulated leave you were paid out for. You’ll be taken to have finished work at the end of the period covered by those payments.

If you quit your job without a “good and sufficient” reason (such as a health condition), or were fired for some form of “misconduct”, you’ll have to wait an additional 13 weeks (a “non-entitlement period”).


Losing your job because of COVID-19 vaccination: Different benefit payment start dates

    If you lost your job because you chose not to get vaccinated for work that requires it, you can apply for a benefit. However the start date for your benefit payments will depend on your situation. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been required to be vaccinated by your employer or by a government mandate.

    If you started your job before the vaccine mandate, the usual stand-down period (one or two weeks) will apply.  This is because the vaccine requirement is a major change in your employment conditions.

    If you started your job after the vaccine mandate or you accepted the job knowing you needed to get vaccinated, you’ll likely have to wait the additional 13 weeks to get your benefit. There is an exception if you found out you were unable to get vaccinated after accepting the work.

    For more information on the COVID-19 vaccine mandates and employment law, see the chapter “Employment conditions and protections”

Note: You should check Work and Income’s calculations for when you’re taken to have finished work, to make sure no mistakes have been made.

Next Section | Types of benefits

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Dealing with Work and Income

Where to go for more support

Community Law


Your local Community Law Centre can provide free initial legal advice and, depending on your situation, may be able to provide ongoing support.

Work and Income


Phone: 0800 559 009

This website contains information about who qualifies for the different benefits and payments and how to apply for them.

Benefit rates

For information about the benefit rates that apply from 1 April 2021, visit:


Beneficiary advocacy groups

There’s likely to be an advocacy group for beneficiaries in your area. Look for them online. If you’re not able to find one, contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau (see below).

Auckland Action Against Poverty


Phone: (09) 634 0591

AAAP provides a free advocacy service for people dealing with Work and Income. They have also published a 30-page “Beneficiary Rights Booklet”, which you can download from their ‘Resources’ page.

Address: 120 Church St, Onehunga, Auckland 1061
Email: advocates@aaap.org.nz

Citizens Advice Bureau


Phone: 0800 FOR CAB (0800 367 222)

Every Citizens Advice Bureau has volunteers who can provide information, particularly on where to access beneficiary advocacy services.

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