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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 395–4003, 407, 451

If you’re not satisfied with the decision of the Benefit Review Committee, you can appeal to the Social Security Appeal Authority.

The Authority is an independent Tribunal within the Ministry of Justice. It is a three-member panel.

Note: The Social Security Appeal Authority’s decisions are available online, at: www.justice.govt.nz/Tribunals/social-security-appeal-authority/decisions

Lodging your appeal

Social Security Act 2018, s 400

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

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

What happens after I lodge my appeal?

Social Security Act 2018, ss 392, 394, 400, 401, 403, 407, 451; Social Security Regulations 2018, reg 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 is an extensive one – it 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.

The Appeal Authority will set a date and time for its 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 the chapter “Legal Aid and other legal help”).

The hearings are not open to the public. Although the Appeal Authority’s decisions are published, this is done in such a way that 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 Social Security Appeal Authority?

Social Security Act 2018, ss 405, 406

If the Appeal Authority decides against you, you can appeal its decision to the High Court, but only on a question of law.

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

You should apply for Legal Aid for this, unless you have access to a lawyer you can afford or a lawyer who will take your case for free. (See the chapter “Legal Aid and other legal help”.)

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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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