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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:

  • Food:
    • 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.

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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

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