One-off payments for immediate and essential needs
Social Security Act 2018, s 347
Ministerial Direction on Advance Payment of Benefits, Recoverable Assistance Programme
When can I get Recoverable Assistance?
Recoverable Assistance covers a wide range of costs, for example:
- household necessities (power, appliances, furniture, bedding, essential home repairs)
- things you need for work or school (driver licences, school uniforms, safety footwear)
- rent or a bond for new accommodation
- travel costs if you’re stranded and unable to get home.
Recoverable Assistance from Work and Income is usually the last resort – for example, when you’ve received an eviction notice from your landlord or a disconnection notice from your power company. Your application might be denied if Work and Income believe you could provide for the need yourself.
Payments are made directly to suppliers (if they’re on Work and Income’s database) or indirectly through a payment card provided to you by Work and Income.
How much can I get from Recoverable Assistance?
The maximum amount for one payment is usually restricted to six times your weekly main benefit. If you’re not on a benefit, it will be restricted to six times the weekly rate of Supported Living Payment you would get if you were on benefit.
There are maximum amounts for certain specific costs including home repairs, safety footwear, and travel if you’re stranded and unable to return home.
You can apply for Recoverable Assistance more than once. However:
- the total amount to be repaid (the new payment + the amount owing on your previous payment) cannot be more than six times the main benefit rate, and
- Work and Income might decline if you’ve already applied for Recoverable Assistance in the last year for the same or similar reasons.
Tip: These restrictions might be lifted in exceptional circumstances – for example, if you, your partner or your children would suffer serious hardship, or if the restriction is unreasonable given your wider life circumstances.
How long will I have to pay Recoverable Assistance back?
You’ll usually be expected to repay the grant within two years.
If you are receiving any assistance from Work and Income, this will be deducted from your payments each week. You can negotiate the rate of repayment but generally this will never be more than $40 a week.