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Communtity Law Manual | Work & Income | The main laws about benefits

Overview of the benefit system

The main laws about benefits

Two main New Zealand Acts

There are two main pieces of legislation that provide for payments of benefits: the Social Security Act 2018, and the New Zealand Superannuation and Retirement Income Act 2001.

The Social Security Act 2018:

  • sets out the criteria you must meet in order to receive income support
  • sets out when your income support might be reduced (“abated”) because you’ve earned other income
  • provides for you to be “sanctioned” (penalised) by having your income support reduced or cancelled if you don’t comply with the requirements for your particular form of income support
  • permits the Minister of Social Development to establish specific welfare programmes (like the Seasonal Work Assistance Programme) and to issue regulations (to specify further how Work and Income is to administer the Act).

The New Zealand Superannuation and Retirement Income Act 2001 sets out the criteria that people 65 and over must meet in order to receive New Zealand Superannuation – including, for example, when a person’s absences from New Zealand will affect their entitlement to New Zealand Superannuation.

Entitlements under international agreements

New Zealand has bilateral social security agreements with a number of other countries. These allow New Zealanders access to certain benefits or pensions when moving to those countries and allow for similar entitlements to people who move to New Zealand from those countries.

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