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Jobs, benefits & flats

Overview of the benefit system

The main laws about benefits

Two main New Zealand Acts

There are two main pieces of legislation that provide for payments of benefits: the Social Security Act 2018, and the New Zealand Superannuation and Retirement Income Act 2001.

The Social Security Act 2018:

  • sets out the criteria you must meet in order to receive income support
  • sets out when your income support might be reduced (“abated”) because you’ve earned other income
  • provides for you to be “sanctioned” (penalised) by having your income support reduced or cancelled if you don’t comply with the requirements for your particular form of income support
  • permits the Minister of Social Development to establish specific welfare programmes (like the Seasonal Work Assistance Programme) and to issue regulations (to specify further how Work and Income is to administer the Act).

The New Zealand Superannuation and Retirement Income Act 2001 sets out the criteria that people 65 and over must meet in order to receive New Zealand Superannuation – including, for example, when a person’s absences from New Zealand will affect their entitlement to New Zealand Superannuation.

Entitlements under international agreements

New Zealand has bilateral social security agreements with a number of other countries. These allow New Zealanders access to certain benefits or pensions when moving to those countries and allow for similar entitlements to people who move to New Zealand from those countries.

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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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