Special Needs Grant

A Special Needs Grant is a payment to help people in certain circumstances pay for something when they have no other way of paying for it. You don't usually have to pay them back either.

Who can get it

This depends on your individual circumstances.

Generally, you may get a Special Needs Grant if you:

  • have urgent and necessary needs
  • have no other way to meet these costs
  • are a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident.

You should also normally live in New Zealand and intend to stay here.

It may also depend on:

  • how much you and your spouse or partner earn
  • any money or assets you and your spouse or partner have.

This information is a guide only.

How we work with you

We want to make sure everyone receiving a hardship payment is also getting help to manage their money and improve their situation.

If you're receiving Youth Payment and Young Parent Payment, this information doesn't apply to you. Your Youth Service provider will help you with budgeting.


One or two payments a year

If you are applying for hardship payments once or twice a year and have a Payment Card, you may be able to apply over the phone.

The current eligibility criteria for paying a hardship grant will continue to apply. Your financial need must be both immediate and essential. In granting hardship assistance, we will consider the effect on you if you cannot pay for the item immediately.

Three, four, or five payments a year

If you need to get a hardship payment three to five times over 12 months you will have to:

  • go into a service centre to apply
  • show you have taken reasonable steps to increase your income, reduce your costs, or improve your financial management. This could include arranging automatic payments for bills, consolidating debt to reduce repayment costs and cancelling non-essential payments or services
  • show you have taken some budgeting steps, like completing your own budget or seeking advice from budgeting services.

The things you are required to do will depend on your individual needs.

If you don’t meet these additional requirements you may be declined further assistance.

Six or more payments a year

The sixth time you apply for hardship assistance in a 12 month period you will have an intensive interview with a Case Manager, or Youth Service Provider if you have one. Any grants you apply for will have to be approved by a Service Centre Manager.

For more information

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How to apply

Contact us to talk about your circumstances and we’ll explain how to apply. We’ll normally arrange a meeting with you and will tell you what you need to bring.