Domestic Purposes and Widow's Benefits
For sole parents, some women living alone and caregivers
Can I get the Domestic Purposes Benefit?
To get the Domestic Purposes Benefit you’ll need to be a sole parent, or a caregiver of someone who is sick or infirm, or a woman alone who is aged 50 years or older.
You need to:
- be a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident who normally lives here and
- usually have been here for at least two years at any one time since becoming a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident.
If you are a sole parent
You may be able to get the Domestic Purposes Benefit for sole parents, if you:
- are the parent of a child aged under 18 years who is dependent on you and
- are not living with the other parent or a partner and
- have lost the support of, or are not being adequately maintained by a partner and • are aged 19 years or over.
If you are caring for a child that is not your own, in some circumstances you may also be able to get the Domestic Purposes Benefit for sole parents.
Please note that usually only one parent can get the Domestic Purposes Benefit and we’ll ask you to apply for child support from the other parent.
If you share the care of your children, or you can’t name and legally identify the other parent, it could affect your payments. Please ask us about this. There is also more about child support below.
If you are caring for someone sick or infirm
You may be able to get the Domestic Purposes Benefit for caregivers, if you are:
- aged 18 years or over and have no dependent children or
- aged 19 years or over and have children you support
- caring full-time for someone (but not your spouse or partner) who would otherwise require hospital care, rest home care, extended care provided for severely disabled children and young people, or care of a similar kind.
If you are a woman alone aged 50 years or over
You may be able to get the Domestic Purposes Benefit for women alone, if you:
- don’t have a partner or dependent children and
- have, after the age of 50, stopped:
- caring for a child or children that you have cared for for at least 15 years or
- caring full-time for a sick relative, that you have cared for, for at least 5 years or
- being supported by your partner of at least 5 years (but one of you must have lived in New Zealand for some years).
Can I get the Widow’s Benefit?
You may be able to get the Widow’s Benefit, if you:
- are a woman whose partner has died and
- have one or more dependent children or
- were married or in a civil union or de facto relationship for at least 15 years, and had children or
- had dependent children for at least 15 years while married or in a civil union or de facto relationship or widowed or
- are a woman who is aged 50 years and your partner has died and you:
- were married or in a civil union or de facto relationship for at least 5 years and became a widow after you turned 50 years or
- were married or in a civil union or de facto relationship for at least a total of 10 years, got married or entered a civil union or de facto relationship (for the first time) not less than 15 years ago and became a widow after you turned 40 years.
If you were married or in a civil union or de facto relationship more than once, we count the total number of years you were married or in a civil union or de facto relationship.
You can only get this benefit if you have never remarried or found a new partner.
Work preparation obligations – getting ready for work
If you receive a Domestic Purposes Benefit for sole parents or Widow’s Benefit and have a child under 5 years of age, you are required to take practical steps to improve your ability to get a job in the future.
What you are asked to do will depend on what will best help you prepare for work. It might be a programme to improve your skills or perhaps employment related training.
Work preparation activities may include attendance at or participation in:
- a work assessment
- a programme or seminar to increase skills or motivation
- employment related training or education
- planning for employment
- work experience
- any other activity specified that Work and Income considers will increase your work readiness (excluding medical treatment).
Work obligations – being available for work
You are expected to actively seek suitable:
- part-time work (for at least 15 hours a week) if you receive a Domestic Purposes Benefit for sole parents or Widow’s Benefit and your youngest child is aged between 5 and 13 years, or
- full-time work (for at least 30 hours a week) if you receive a Domestic Purposes Benefit for sole parents, women alone or a Widow’s Benefit and you have no child or your youngest child is 14 years or older.
If you don’t meet your obligations to look for and prepare for work, your payments may be affected.
Always tell us straight away if there is any reason why you can’t meet your obligations – we may be able to give you an exemption so that your payments are not affected.
Having an additional child
If you have another child while receiving a benefit your work availability expectations may change when the child turns one year of age. Until the additional child turns one you will be required to take steps to get ready for work.
We can grant you financial assistance from the date you first contact us, if you complete your application within 20 working days of that date.
The Domestic Purposes Benefit and the Widow’s Benefit are paid weekly. How much you get depends on your situation – this guide shows you what the different payments are:
|If you are...||Weekly payments (after tax)|
|Domestic Purposes Benefit|
|Women alone (single adult)||$214.79|
|Women alone (single adult)||$214.79|
|You may get less if you have other income. If you have children you may also
be able to get family tax credit or extra allowances as well. Tax deducted is at the M rate.
Rates as at 1 April 2013
Payments usually start 2 to 3 weeks after you apply. You may have to wait longer if you have been working, and received holiday pay or another payment at the end of your job.
We don’t count any income your former spouse or partner may have been earning – so this won’t affect how long you have to wait.
What happens if I work?
Receiving a benefit and working
You may earn other income, including income from part-time, temporary or seasonal work.
You can earn up to $100 a week or $5,200 a year (before tax) before your benefit is affected.
Please note that any income you have may affect any extra allowances you get from us, even if it’s under the $100 limit. How this income affects your allowances can vary, so please ask us for more details about this.
Remember you must tell us straight away if you start any type of work.
You can call us for an estimate to find out how working affects your payments. The guide below shows you what the deductions to your benefit are.
|If your yearly income before tax is...||The deduction rate is|
|Up to $5,200||No change to your benefit|
|$5,201 - $10,400||30c off for each $1 of income|
|$10,401 or more||70c off for each $1 of income|
You may be able to earn up to $20 a week more than these thresholds if you need to pay for childcare because you are working.
Talk to us about your options if you take on part-time, full-time or seasonal work. Even if your benefit stops, you may still be able to get help with things like accommodation and childcare.
Remember, if you have other income you need to talk to Inland Revenue as well to make sure you are using the right tax codes. Other income can also affect Working for Families Tax Credits, Student Loan repayments, and Child Support.
In-work tax credit
If you’re working and your benefit is suspended or cancelled, you may be able to receive the in-work tax credit from Inland Revenue.
It pays up to $60 a week per family with 3 children, and up to an extra $15 a week for each additional child. As a sole parent, you must work at least 20 hours a week.
When your benefit is suspended or cancelled we’ll tell Inland Revenue so you don’t have to, and they’ll keep in touch.
When you are a sole parent, any child support the other parent pays goes to the Government to help cover what you get from us. You can find out how much they pay and ask for a review if you think it’s not enough. It’s a good idea to do this now because, once your benefit stops, the child support goes directly to you. To find out more, contact Inland Revenue child support on 0800 221 221 or visit:
When you get the Domestic Purposes Benefit or the Widow’s Benefit, you’ll get the Community Services Card to help with the costs of visiting your doctor and getting prescriptions.
If you have dependent children aged 18 years or younger, you can also get Family Tax Credit while on a benefit.
You may be able to get the Training Incentive Allowance if you are doing a work-related course to improve your work skills. If you are a sole parent receiving a Domestic Purposes Benefit, you may also be able to get a Study Assistance Loan. Talk to your case manager if you are interested.
If you are in hardship or an emergency situation, please talk to us as soon as possible. For instance, if you are a refugee, or alone and pregnant, or caring for someone who can’t work, or dependent on someone who is on strike – we may be able to help.
There may also be other ways we can help, so please talk to us or read:
It is important you tell us about any changes that may affect your benefit. See our How can we help you? brochure for a list of the kinds of things we need to know about.
When you apply for income support, you agree to two very important conditions. All the information you give us must be true, with nothing left out – and you must tell us straight away about any changes in your circumstances that could affect your payments. If you don’t meet these conditions, you are breaking the law and can be prosecuted.
You can’t get the Domestic Purposes Benefit or the Widow’s Benefit if you remarry or start to live with a partner or enter a civil union (unless you are getting the Domestic Purposes Benefit for Caregivers – please ask us about this). The best thing to do if you start a relationship is to talk with us early on – it can save problems later.
What to bring
Make sure you bring everything you need to your meeting.
If you are a caregiver of a sick or infirm person, their doctor must fill in part of the application form for you to bring with you. If you are a widow or widower, we will need to see your partner’s death certificate. If you don’t have one please call us.