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Challenging Work and Income decisions: Reviews and appeals


What kinds of Work and Income decisions can I challenge?

Social Security Act 2018, ss 391–399, Sched 7

Work and Income makes hundreds of decisions a week, and not all of them are correct. Any decision made by a Work and Income staff member can be challenged and their decision can be reviewed (this is called a “review of decision”). These are just a few examples of decisions that can be reviewed:

  • refusing you a main benefit
  • setting the start date of your benefit
  • refusing you supplementary or hardship assistance
  • setting the level of supplementary or hardship assistance
  • cutting your benefit (a “sanction”) on the alleged grounds that you failed the work test, or didn’t declare income, or are in a relationship with someone.

How do I apply for a review?

Social Security Act 2018, ss 391–394, Sched 7

You can either:

How long do I have to apply for a review?

Social Security Act 2018, s 392

Usually you must apply for a review within three months after you’re notified of the decision, but this time limit can be extended if there is a good reason.

What happens after I apply for a review?

Unless Work and Income decides to change its decision after reconsidering it, Work and Income will arrange for the review to be carried out by the appropriate body, which will be either a Benefit Review Committee or a Medical Appeal Board.

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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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