Types of main benefits
You’re at school or in training (16 and 17 year olds)
Qualifying for the Youth Payment
You can apply for the Youth Payment if you are:
- 16 or 17 years old, and
- living independently from your parents, and
- you are currently or previously married, in a civil union, or in a de facto relationship with your parents’ permission, or
- single, and able to explain why you are living independently, for example, your relationship with your parents has broken down (see: “Showing “exceptional circumstances” if you’re single” below), and
- still at, or available to go to school or full-time tertiary study or training (see below), and
- earning less than a certain amount (if you have a partner, their income will be taken into account), and
- you don’t have any dependent children (see: “Key words”).
Note: If you have a child, you’ll need to apply for the Young Parent Payment, rather than the Youth Payment (see: “Teenage parents (Young Parent Payment)”).
You must be taking part in (or be available for) full-time secondary or tertiary education, or approved full-time training or work-based learning. This education or training must be leading to a qualification at the level of NCEA 2 or higher.
If, because of a health condition, you’re unable to regularly work more than 15 hours in “open” employment (that is, not in “sheltered” employment – see: “Key words”) and this is likely to last for at least two years, you’ll be able to get the Supported Living Payment (see: “You’ve got a serious illness, injury or disability”).
If you are, or were, in a relationship
If your partner is getting a main benefit (e.g., Jobseeker Support) in their own right, you can be included in your partner’s benefit, but will still have youth obligations.
If you have a partner who’s working, their income will be included in assessing whether you qualify for Youth Payment.
If you’re in a de facto relationship, but you don’t have your parents permission or a Family Court ruling, you’ll be treated as a single person and will need to meet the “exceptional circumstances” test.
If you were married, in a civil union or a de facto relationship but that relationship has now ended, you don’t have to meet the “exceptional circumstances” qualification to get Youth Payment.
Showing “exceptional circumstances” if you’re single
If you’re single, you must be in “exceptional circumstances” to get the Youth Payment. This means being in one of the following situations:
- your parents are unable to support you (for example, if they’re in prison, in hospital, or overseas), or
- your relationship with your parents has broken down, and they’re unwilling to support you, or
- for some good reason, you can’t reasonably be expected to be financially dependent on your parents (for example, you’ve experienced family violence), or
- you were, but are no longer, in the care of Oranga Tamariki / Ministry for Children.
An organisation (currently Barnardos) will assess whether your relationship with your parents has broken down. Usually, they will interview your parents and your caregivers and may also interview other people, such as teachers or social workers.
Barnardos will then make a recommendation to Work and Income, who make the final decision.
Work and Income sometimes refuse you the benefit if they decide that you were responsible for the breakdown. For example, if you’ve left home because you disagreed with certain rules that your parents insisted you comply with, you may need to satisfy Work and Income that these rules were unreasonable.
You can challenge the decision if you think the assessor didn’t talk to all the people they should have to make a proper assessment (see: “Challenging Work and Income decisions: Reviews and appeals”).
What are my obligations when getting the Youth Payment?
You might also have to:
- attend a budgeting programme,
- go to interviews with Work and Income or Youth Service provider organisations, and/or
- co-operate with Work and Income or Youth Service providers to manage how you spend your benefit. This means attending budgeting discussions and providing information about your finances and spending.
How is the Youth Payment paid?
Youth Payment beneficiaries are usually subject to “money management,” which means you won’t receive the full amount of the benefit directly. Instead:
- your Youth Service provider will pay your key costs on your behalf, this includes rent/board, power and phone expenses, and any debt repayments,
- you’ll receive up to $50 a week directly into your bank account (your “in-hand allowance”), and
- any money left over is placed on a payment card, which you can use to buy food and other groceries from approved suppliers (for example, supermarkets, pharmacies, or butchers).
If you consistently meet your obligations and demonstrate financial competency, your Youth Service Provider might determine that you can receive the money directly.
Note: Depending on where you live, it may not be possible for Work and Income to give you a choice as to who your Youth Service provider will be. As examples, the Youth Service provider organisations for the Auckland area are Youthline, Youth Horizons, the Solomon Group Education and Training Academy, and STRIVE Community Trust.
Special “incentive payments” on the Youth Payment
While you’re getting the Youth Payment, you might also qualify for both of the following incentive payments:
- You’ll receive an extra $10 a week if you complete six months’ successful participation in education, training or work-based learning.
- You’ll receive an extra $10 a week if you complete an approved budgeting course and if, for three continuous months, you’ve also been attending budgeting discussions with Work and Income or a Youth Service provider.
If you’ve met the relevant requirements, you’ll continue to receive the incentive payment for as long as you’re on the Youth Payment.
When will I stop getting the Youth Payment?
If you’re in education or training when you turn 18, the Youth Payment won’t stop immediately:
- If you’re at secondary school on your 18th birthday, the Youth Payment will continue until the following 31 March.
- If you’re doing some other course when you turn 18, the Youth Payment will continue until the last day of your course – unless the course ends in December, in which case the Youth Payment continue until the following 31 March.