One-off payments for immediate and essential needs
Special Needs Grants for food and other specific purposes
Social Security Act 2018, ss 101, 368 Special Needs Grant Programme
Special Needs Grants can cover a variety of costs, and are available whether or not you are getting a main benefit. There are both income-test limits and a cash-asset limit.
You usually don’t have to pay back a Special Needs Grant.
If the Special Needs Grant isn’t enough to meet the cost, you might be able to get Recoverable Assistance as well to cover the difference (see: “Recoverable Assistance”).
Payments can be made directly to suppliers, if they’re on Work and Income’s database, or through a payment card provided to you by Work and Income.
How do I apply for a Special Needs Grant?
You can apply in person at a Work and Income centre, online through My MSD, or over the phone by calling 0800 599 009.
Work and Income should deal with an application for a Special Needs Grant inside one working day.
You will need to provide details of your particular need. This is often simply your bank balance, showing that you have no resources. If it’s an emergency, such as an urgent need for dental or medical treatment, you’ll need to provide an invoice or quote.
When can I get a Special Needs Grant?
There are a range of categories of Special Needs Grants available. For some categories, more than one Special Needs Grant can be provided in the same six or 12-month period for the same type of need.
The criteria for each type of grant vary, but essentially the grants are available if you have a specific one-off need and are unable to meet it.
Special Needs Grants are available for:
- over a six-month period, you can get up to a maximum of $200 for single people, $300 for couples with no children, $450 for families with one to two dependent children and $550 if three or more dependent children are in the family. These limits can be exceeded in exceptional circumstances.
- Specific emergencies, including:
- dental or medical treatment
- accompanying someone overseas for medical treatment
- getting a birth certificate (which is needed to complete many applications for ongoing assistance)
- help for those in rural communities facing certain kinds of disasters
- Specific purposes, including:
- applying for residency if you’ve lost the support of your sponsor
- getting a driver licence
- repairs and maintenance
- if you or your partner have applied for a benefit, but the benefit has a stand-down period (see: “When will my benefit start”)
- Re-establishment costs if:
- you’re a refugee,
- you’ve experienced family violence,
- you’re a long-term patient,
- you’ve recently been released from prison, and/or
- you’re transitioning out of Oranga Tamariki care.