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Challenging Work and Income decisions: Reviews and appeals

Right of appeal to independent Tribunal: Going to the Social Security Appeal Authority

Social Security Act 2018, ss 395–403, 407, 451

If you disagree with the decision of the Benefit Review Committee, you can appeal to the Social Security Appeal Authority (“the Appeal Authority”).

The Appeal Authority is an independent Tribunal within the Ministry of Justice. It is a three-member panel. The Appeal Authority’s decisions are available online at justice.govt.nz/Tribunals/social-security-appeal-authority/decisions.

How do I lodge an appeal?

Social Security Act 2018, s 400

When the Benefit Review Committee gives you their decision, they should give you information on how to appeal to the Social Security Appeal Authority.

You must lodge your appeal within 60 working days after you’re notified of the Benefit Review Committee’s decision.

You are treated as receiving notifications of the decision if:

  • a decision is made, and
  • you’re notified of the decision, and
  • you’ve received the notice.

It’s also a good idea to inform Work and Income.

What happens after I lodge my appeal?

Social Security Act 2018, ss 392, 394, 400, 401, 403, 407, 451 Social Security Regulations 2018, r 249

Work and Income will assign the appeal to someone from their Appeals Team who will prepare a report for the Social Security Appeal Authority.

The report states the facts, relevant parts of the law (including court cases) and Work and Income’s reasons for its decision. The report also includes copies of application forms, supporting documents, records of interviews with you and others (if applicable) and copies of any court decisions the report refers to.

You will be assigned a case manager for your appeal who will set up a pre-hearing meeting with you to talk through the process of hearing and any of your accessibility needs. The Appeals Authority has hearings in Wellington, but you can request to have the hearing take place remotely or in a less formal setting.

The Appeal Authority will set a date and time for the hearing, which will usually be three to four months after your appeal was lodged.

What happens at the Appeal Authority’s hearing?

Social Security Act 2018, Sched 8, cl 10A

You can be represented by an advocate or a lawyer, or you can represent yourself. Legal Aid is available to pay for your lawyer if you can’t afford one (see: “Legal Aid”).

The hearings are private. The Appeal Authority will redact any of your personal information when publishing the decision. You won’t be able to be identified by anyone who was not involved in the hearing.

The Appeal Authority can decide not to hold a hearing and to make a decision based on reading the relevant files and documents (this is called making a decision “on the papers”).

Can I appeal the decision of the Appeal Authority?

Social Security Act 2018, ss 405, 406

If the Appeal Authority decides against you, you can appeal to the High Court, but only on a question of law. In other words, you can’t dispute the facts.

You will need to lodge your appeal within 10 working days after the Appeal Authority’s decision.

It’s strongly recommended to get a lawyer to help you with an appeal to the High Court. You could apply for Legal Aid, unless you have access to a lawyer you can afford or a lawyer who will take your case for free (see: “Legal Aid”).

Did this answer your question?

Dealing with Work and Income

Where to go for more support

Community Law

Your local Community Law Centre can provide you with free initial legal advice.

Find your local Community Law Centre online: www.communitylaw.org.nz/our-law-centres

Ministry of Social Development – Work and Income (WINZ)

See Work and Income’s website for information on whether you qualify for a benefit and how to apply for them.

Website: www.workandincome.govt.nz
Phone:  0800 559 009

Auckland Action Against Poverty (AAAP)

AAAP is a free nationwide advocacy service for people dealing with Work and Income.

Website: www.aaap.org.nz
Email: advocates@aaap.org.nz
Instagram: www.instagram.com/aucklandactionagainstpoverty
Facebook: www.facebook.com/AAAPNZ/

Helpful resources for beneficiaries: www.aaap.org.nz/resources

Beneficiaries Advocacy and Information Services (BAIS)

BAIS provides free advocacy and support for beneficiaries and low-income families in Auckland’s North Shore, Rodney and Hibiscus Coast districts.

Website: www.bais.org.nz
Phone: 09 444 9543
Instagram: www.instagram.com/bais.northshoreandrodney
Facebook: www.facebook.com/BAISnorthshoreandrodey   

Hutt Valley Benefit Education Service Trust (HV BEST)

The HV BEST provides information and support to beneficiaries in the Hutt Valley. 

Website: www.hvbest.co.nz
Email: hvbest@xtra.co.nz
Phone: 04 529 8108

Beneficiaries & Unwaged Workers Trust (BUWT)

BUWT provides information, advice and support to people on low incomes in Nelson.

Website: www.buwt.wordpress.com
Email: buwtcs@xtra.co.nz
Phone: 03 548 8171
Facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/282105670089970/?locale=pt_PT

Beneficiary Advisory Service (BAS)

The BAS provides information and support to beneficiaries in Christchurch.

Website: www.bas.org.nz
Email: bas.cprc@gmail.com
Phone: 0800 00 00 43
Facebook: www.facebook.com/BeneficiaryAdvisoryService

Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB)

CAB provides free, confidential and independent information and advice. See CAB’s website for valuable information on a range of topics.

Website: www.cab.org.nz
Phone: 0800 367 222
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/citizensadvicenz

Find your local CAB office: www.cab.org.nz/find-a-cab

Zero Data

Zero Data is a new digital support that allows anyone with a mobile device, phone or tablet to access essential Government information for free. No data is used.

Website: www.zero.govt.nz

What do I need do I need for it to work?

  •  The device is on.
  •  The device is connected to Spark, Skinny One NZ, 2Degrees, Slingshot or Orcon.

You can access information from the following agencies:

  • Te Manatū Whakahiato Ora | Ministry of Social Development
  • Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga | Ministry of Education
  • Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs
  • Te Whatu Ora | Health New Zealand
  • Kāinga Ora | Homes & Communities
  • Te Tāhū o te Ture | Ministry of Justice
  • Te Kaporeihana Āwhina Hunga Whara | Accident Compensation Corporation

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