Jobseeker Support helps people find work and provides them with a weekly payment.
You may qualify for this benefit if you either:
- can work full time and you’re taking steps to look for work
- have a health condition or disability which affects your ability to work.
Who can get it
To get Jobseeker Support, you generally need to either:
- not be in employment and looking for a job
- be in part-time employment seeking more work
- have a health condition or disability which affects your ability to work. This means that you have to reduce your hours or stop work for a while. We may still be able to help if you have a job to go back to.
You also need to be:
- willing to accept suitable employment
- aged 18 years or over, or 19 and over if you have dependent children
- a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident who has lived here for at least two years at any one time since becoming a citizen or permanent resident, and who normally lives here.
If you meet the above criteria except for the one about how long you’ve lived in New Zealand, talk to us.
To get Jobseeker Support, and to keep receiving the weekly payments, you’ll need to do some required activities and meet a number of obligations.
This is a guide only. For more detail about who can get it read:
Support you can get
When on Jobseeker Support you can get support to:
- identify and develop your skills
- gain work experience and build work confidence
- write a CV and prepare for interviews
- find a job or maybe start a business
- sort out any barriers that may prevent you from working.
What you need to do
You may be required to complete pre-benefit activities before receiving a benefit.
While on Jobseeker Support you’ll need to meet obligations to continue receiving the payments.
The obligations are different for different people. For example, if you have a health condition, injury or disability you may not have to meet some work obligations until your situation changes.
The obligations you need to meet, and what happens if you don’t, are listed in the Jobseeker Support application form. The main obligations people on Jobseeker Support need to meet are to:
- work with us (or others we refer you to) to find a suitable job
- attend any job training courses or work assessments we request
- attend any interviews for suitable jobs and accept any suitable work offers
- show us you’re making an effort to find work
- take and pass a drug test if required by employers or training providers
- take reasonable steps to make sure any dependent children in your care access health services and education
- tell us if you’re travelling overseas, before you go, no matter how long you plan to be away or why you’re travelling - if you don't your benefit will automatically stop the day after you leave
- tell us if there are changes to your situation – for example, to your income or relationship
- clear any Ministry of Justice-issued arrest warrants for criminal matters.
For more detail about your obligations:
What happens if you don’t meet your obligations
If you can’t meet your obligations, please talk to us. Unless you have a good reason for not meeting them, your benefit could reduce or stop.
If you have a partner, their situation will be considered in your application and they may be required to complete pre-benefit activities. Your partner may also need to meet a number of obligations, depending on their circumstances.
If your partner is aged 16 or 17 (or 16 to 18 years if you have dependent children) they must work with a local Youth Service provider and meet obligations such as being in full-time education, training or work-based learning.
Jobseeker Support is paid weekly and if you also qualify for extra financial help it’s paid at the same time. How much you get paid depends on your situation.
If you get other types of income
If you’re a sole parent, you can get up to $5,200 a year (before tax) in additional money before your benefit payment is affected, and $20 more per week if you have childcare costs.
If you’re not a sole parent you can get up to $80 a week (before tax) before your benefit payment is affected. If you have a partner, the $80 applies to your combined earnings.
Any income you get that’s not from Work and Income may affect extra financial help you receive from us.
Extra financial help
When you apply, you’ll be asked to give information that will help Work and Income to know whether you also qualify for any additional financial assistance, such as the Accommodation Supplement.
If you get Jobseeker Support, you’ll also receive a Community Services Card to help with the costs of prescriptions and going to the doctor.
If you have dependent children aged 18 or under, you’ll get Inland Revenue’s family tax credit while you’re on a benefit. You may be able to have your family tax credit paid with your benefit.
How long before you get your first payment?
Usually you receive your first payment two or three weeks after you’ve applied. This can be longer if you received holiday or redundancy pay, or you left your last job without good reason.
If you’ve just finished a job that went for fewer than 26 weeks – for example, seasonal work – we may be able to restart your payments straight away.
On Jobseeker Support for more than 12 months
If you still require Jobseeker Support after 52 weeks you’ll have to re-apply for your benefit. We’ll let you know when you have to re-apply and tell you what you need to do.
When you re-apply, you’ll also need to complete a Comprehensive Work Assessment. This will identify what steps you've taken to find work and what help you might need from us to be more successful in getting a job.
What happens if you don’t reapply in time?
Your benefit will be stopped if you don’t reapply in time. In some cases you may be able to have an extension but you need to contact us immediately and explain your circumstances.
What does your partner need to do?
If you have a partner, then your partner will need to complete their section of your reapplication form.
If you don’t reapply for Jobseeker Support after 52 weeks, your partner’s portion of your benefit will also stop.
Partners with work obligations need to participate in and complete their own Comprehensive Work Assessment.
Support when you work
Depending on your income, when you work you may be able to get help with costs such as accommodation and childcare, or Working for Families Tax Credits from Inland Revenue.
When you take on full-time work (30 hours or more a week), your benefit will stop, although you may still be able to get extra financial assistance.
You must tell us straight away if you start work and we’ll talk to you about the impact on your payments and what else you may be eligible for.
If you’re 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 what they pay and ask for a review if you think it’s not enough. Once your benefit stops, the child support goes directly to you.
To find out more call Inland Revenue on 0800 221 221 or visit:
Having another child while on a benefit
If you have another child while you're getting Jobseeker Support, you need to let us know as it could affect your payments and whether you need to look for work.
You’ll be expected to prepare for work before that child turns one year old.
You may be required to look for work from when the child turns one year, depending on the age of your next youngest child.
Are you eligible?
How to apply
If you think you fit the Jobseeker Support requirements, you can apply online.
We can grant you the financial assistance you’re entitled to from the date you first contact us if you complete your application within 20 working days of that date.
Before getting Jobseeker Support, you’ll need to complete any activities we ask you to do. These are different for different people and may include:
- providing an up-to-date CV
- showing us what you’ve done to find work (for example, replies to job applications)
attending an hour-long seminar that will help you find work.
Applying if you have a health condition, injury or disability
You’ll need a medical certificate from your doctor to tell us how your health condition or disability affects your ability to work.
Most GPs now send us medical certificates electronically. If you already have a Work and Income client number, make sure your doctor includes that on the certificate.
If your doctor doesn’t send your medical certificate electronically, you’ll need to bring or send it in.
For more information contact us