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You’re at school or in training (16 and 17 year olds)

Qualifying for the Youth Payment

Social Security Act 2018, ss 49–52

You can apply for the Youth Payment if you are:

  • 16 or 17 years old, and
  • living independently from your parents, and
  • either:
    • 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)”).

Study requirements

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

Social Security Act 2018, ss 49, 51, 52

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?

Social Security Act 2018, ss 105, 110, 162–164, 169

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?

Social Security Act 2018 ss 338–343, 345, Sched 4, Pt 6 Social Security Regulations 2018, regs 193–200

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

Social Security Regulations 2018, regs 12, 13 Social Security Act 2018, Sched 4, Pt 6

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?

Social Security Act 2018, s 54

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.

Did this answer your question?

Dealing with Work and Income

Where to go for more support

Community Law

Your local Community Law Centre can provide you with free initial legal advice.

Find your local Community Law Centre online: www.communitylaw.org.nz/our-law-centres

Ministry of Social Development – Work and Income (WINZ)

See Work and Income’s website for information on whether you qualify for a benefit and how to apply for them.

Website: www.workandincome.govt.nz
Phone:  0800 559 009

Auckland Action Against Poverty (AAAP)

AAAP is a free nationwide advocacy service for people dealing with Work and Income.

Website: www.aaap.org.nz
Email: advocates@aaap.org.nz
Instagram: www.instagram.com/aucklandactionagainstpoverty
Facebook: www.facebook.com/AAAPNZ/

Helpful resources for beneficiaries: www.aaap.org.nz/resources

Beneficiaries Advocacy and Information Services (BAIS)

BAIS provides free advocacy and support for beneficiaries and low-income families in Auckland’s North Shore, Rodney and Hibiscus Coast districts.

Website: www.bais.org.nz
Phone: 09 444 9543
Instagram: www.instagram.com/bais.northshoreandrodney
Facebook: www.facebook.com/BAISnorthshoreandrodey   

Hutt Valley Benefit Education Service Trust (HV BEST)

The HV BEST provides information and support to beneficiaries in the Hutt Valley. 

Website: www.hvbest.co.nz
Email: hvbest@xtra.co.nz
Phone: 04 529 8108

Beneficiaries & Unwaged Workers Trust (BUWT)

BUWT provides information, advice and support to people on low incomes in Nelson.

Website: www.buwt.wordpress.com
Email: buwtcs@xtra.co.nz
Phone: 03 548 8171
Facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/282105670089970/?locale=pt_PT

Beneficiary Advisory Service (BAS)

The BAS provides information and support to beneficiaries in Christchurch.

Website: www.bas.org.nz
Email: bas.cprc@gmail.com
Phone: 0800 00 00 43
Facebook: www.facebook.com/BeneficiaryAdvisoryService

Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB)

CAB provides free, confidential and independent information and advice. See CAB’s website for valuable information on a range of topics.

Website: www.cab.org.nz
Phone: 0800 367 222
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/citizensadvicenz

Find your local CAB office: www.cab.org.nz/find-a-cab

Zero Data

Zero Data is a new digital support that allows anyone with a mobile device, phone or tablet to access essential Government information for free. No data is used.

Website: www.zero.govt.nz

What do I need do I need for it to work?

  •  The device is on.
  •  The device is connected to Spark, Skinny One NZ, 2Degrees, Slingshot or Orcon.

You can access information from the following agencies:

  • Te Manatū Whakahiato Ora | Ministry of Social Development
  • Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga | Ministry of Education
  • Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs
  • Te Whatu Ora | Health New Zealand
  • Kāinga Ora | Homes & Communities
  • Te Tāhū o te Ture | Ministry of Justice
  • Te Kaporeihana Āwhina Hunga Whara | Accident Compensation Corporation

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