Types of main benefits
You need help but you don’t qualify for any main benefit
Qualifying for the Emergency Benefit
You might qualify for the Emergency Benefit if you are 16 or over, don’t qualify for another main benefit, and you have no other means of supporting yourself.
Emergency Benefit is a discretionary payment for people who need support but otherwise wouldn’t qualify for assistance, for example:
- You’re 65 or older and you haven’t been living in New Zealand long enough to qualify for NZ Superannuation.
- You don’t have permanent residence or citizenship, but you are waiting for your application for a refugee or protection staus to be approved, or you are applying for a residence class visa and you have to remain in NZ.
- During an annual close down period, you are not covered by holiday pay, but you’re unable to meet job search requirements to get Jobseeker Support.
- You are caring for someone full time and therefore can’t meet the job search requirements for Jobseeker Support, but the person you are caring for doesn’t meet the level of care requirements for you to get Supported Living Payment.
Do I qualify for the Emergency Benefit?
If you don’t qualify for any other benefit, you may be able to get the Emergency Benefit. The Emergency Benefit is treated as a last resort and Work and Income will consider the reasons why you and your dependants (if any) cannot support yourselves.
To qualify for the Emergency Benefit, you can’t have cash assets (see: “Key words”) of more than:
- $4,300 if you are single without kids, or
- $7,464 if you have a partner or any kids.
There are exceptions to this, for example, if refusing to give you an Emergency Benefit would have a serious, negative effect on your health or welfare.
Work and Income can also set specific conditions, such as work-test requirements if the Emergency Benefit is being paid in place of Jobseeker Support.
How much will I get on the Emergency Benefit?
The Emergency Benefit can be paid at whatever rate Work and Income decide in the particular case. This usually means the rate of the main benefit that you would otherwise be eligible for.
If you’re getting the Emergency Benefit, you’ll also qualify for the Winter Energy Payment to help with heating costs (see: “Getting ongoing extra help”).