Home | Browse Topics | Jobs & benefits | Dealing with Work and Income | Recoverable Assistance

Jobs & benefits

One-off payments for immediate and essential needs

Recoverable Assistance

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.

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

Also available as a book

The Community Law Manual

The Manual contains over 1000 pages of easy-to-read legal info and comprehensive answers to common legal questions. From ACC to family law, health & disability, jobs, benefits & flats, Tāonga Māori, immigration and refugee law and much more, the Manual covers just about every area of community and personal life.

Buy The Community Law Manual

Help the manual

We’re a small team that relies on the generosity of all our supporters. You can make a one-off donation or become a supporter by sponsoring the Manual for a community organisation near you. Every contribution helps us to continue updating and improving our legal information, year after year.

Donate Become a Supporter

Find the Answer to your Legal Question

back to top