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Jobs, benefits & flats

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 the section Benefit rates: How much you’ll get, and how much you can earn” in this chapter for more information.

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Dealing with Work and Income

Where to go for more support

Community Law


Your local Community Law Centre can provide free initial legal advice and, depending on your situation, may be able to provide ongoing support.

Work and Income


Phone: 0800 559 009

This website contains information about who qualifies for the different benefits and payments and how to apply for them.

Benefit rates

For information about the benefit rates that apply from 1 April 2021, visit:


Beneficiary advocacy groups

There’s likely to be an advocacy group for beneficiaries in your area. Look for them online. If you’re not able to find one, contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau (see below).

Auckland Action Against Poverty


Phone: (09) 634 0591

AAAP provides a free advocacy service for people dealing with Work and Income. They have also published a 30-page “Beneficiary Rights Booklet”, which you can download from their ‘Resources’ page.

Address: 120 Church St, Onehunga, Auckland 1061
Email: advocates@aaap.org.nz

Citizens Advice Bureau


Phone: 0800 FOR CAB (0800 367 222)

Every Citizens Advice Bureau has volunteers who can provide information, particularly on where to access beneficiary advocacy services.

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