Getting ongoing extra help
Help with ongoing disability costs: Disability Allowance
What is the Disability Allowance?
Disability Allowance is a weekly payment to cover the costs that come up as a direct result of your (or your child’s) disability up to a maximum amount. If your actual costs are more than the maximum, the difference can be covered by Temporary Additional Support (see: “Temporary Additional Support: Extra ongoing help with hardship”).
The Disability Allowance is income-tested, with the income threshold varying depending on the size of your household. If your income is more than the relevant threshold, you will not receive any Disability Allowance.
Disability Allowance is not asset-tested, meaning you won’t be refused a Disability Allowance because of how much savings or other property you have.
Do I qualify for the Disability Allowance?
To qualify, you must be under the income threshold, and you (or your child) must have a disability that:
- is likely to continue for at least six months, and
- has reduced your independent functioning to the extent that you need ongoing support in your day-to-day life, and/or need ongoing supervision or treatment by a health professional.
The disability does not have to restrict your ability to work.
If it’s not possible to know whether your disability is likely to continue for at least six months, Work and Income can still grant you the allowance if it’s reasonably possible that the disability will last for six months, provided you would otherwise qualify. The allowance can also be granted if your life expectancy is less than six months.
You will need a health practitioner to certify on your application form that you meet the above qualifications, and that any costs you claim are necessary and of therapeutic value to your disability.
What costs can I claim for?
You can claim any regular and ongoing costs that come up due to your or your child’s disability (for example, the costs that someone without your disability wouldn’t have). These usually include costs such as doctor visits, counselling, prescriptions, alternative treatments (for example, physiotherapy and acupuncture) and special foods. You could also claim for things like gardening, transport for appointments, and power costs if these are more than what is normal for a similar-sized household.
You can’t claim for one-off costs or costs that are already covered by a different agency (for example, ACC). However, if the other agency only pays part of the costs, you can claim the part that’s not covered.
Tip: Keep copies of all your receipts, invoices and quotes. The Disability Allowance works by paying you back for what you’ve spent (a “reimbursement” system). You need to be able to prove your costs.