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Jobs, benefits & flats

Overview of the benefit system

Main types of income support

In the main “Types of benefits” section in this chapter, we explain the main types of benefits and additional payments you may be able to get, and we describe the requirements for qualifying for each benefit or payment.

We’ve set that section out according to what your situation might be – for example, “You’re looking for work or only able to work part-time”, or “You have younger children (under 14)”, or “You’ve got a serious illness, injury or disability”.

Main benefits – by age

Breaking them down by age groups, there are three broad categories of main benefit:

  • Youth support – If you’re 16 or 17, you may qualify for the Youth Payment. If you’re under 20, you may qualify for the Young Parent Payment.
  • Working-age adults – If you’re between 18 and 65 you may qualify for Jobseeker Support, Sole Parent Support or the Supported Living Payment.
  • 65 and over – If you’re 65 or older you may be eligible for New Zealand Superannuation.

How Work and Income classify the different types of benefits and payments

Work and Income break down the various types of benefits and additional payments in the following way:

  • Main benefits – These are JobSeeker Support, Sole Parent Support and the Supported Living Payment (for working-age adults); the Youth Payment and the Young Parent Payment (for young people); and New Zealand Superannuation (for people 65 or older).
  • Supplementary assistance – The two main forms of ongoing supplementary assistance are the Accommodation Supplement and the Disability Allowance. Other types of ongoing supplementary assistance are for training or course costs and for your children’s education costs. Some one-off supplementary assistance is also available, mainly to help with costs that arise when you begin the transition to work. Many types of supplementary assistance are available for those in paid work as well as those receiving a main benefit.
  • Hardship assistance – There are three categories of hardship assistance: Special Needs Grants (for example, food grants); Advances of Benefits (or Recoverable Assistance Payments if you’re not on a main benefit); and Temporary Additional Support (or the Special Benefit, if you were getting the Special Benefit before 1 April 2006).

There is also Working for Families, a system of tax credits which is not part of the benefits system itself. You can get these credits if you’re in paid work but on a lower income, and some of the tax credits are also available to people on a benefit (see “The Working for Families tax credit package”).

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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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