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Communtity Law Manual | Work & Income | Overview of the benefit system

Dealing with Work and Income

Overview of the benefit system

In New Zealand, income support is available to working-age adults (18 and older) if they:

  • are legally resident in New Zealand
  • do not have sufficient income, and
  • are available for and looking for work, or are exempt from this requirement (for example, because they have a child under three) or are unable to work because of an illness, injury or disability.

Income support is also available to 16- and 17-year-olds in some situations. People over 65 qualify for New Zealand Superannuation regardless of their income if they meet residency requirements.

The benefit system is administered by Work and Income, which is part of the Ministry of Social Development (MSD). Work and Income has about 150 service centres throughout the country. It also has several 0800 enquiry numbers, the main one being 0800 559 009.

Note: Several kinds of secondary assistance, such as the Accommodation Supplement and Special Needs Grants, are available to people who are working and who are not receiving a main benefit such as Jobseeker Support (see “Coming off a benefit” in this chapter).

Upcoming changes to benefit rates

In May 2021, the government announced an increase of benefit rates. See Benefit rates: How much you’ll get, and how much you can earn” section of this chapter for more information.

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