Help when you’re working
A guide for people who are working, or starting work
Support and advice
We want to do everything we can to help make your work a success. If you need support and advice, call us. We will talk with you about your individual circumstances and about the different conditions and requirements that apply to be eligible for assistance.
If you need budgeting advice, we can point you to people who can give the right advice.
Help with work costs
If you don’t have any work obligations and you go off the benefit into work, you may qualify for Work Bonus. This payment provides some financial support for the first few weeks you work.
Assistance to transition into employment
This payment can help with the costs of searching for or starting work, such as clothes for work or travel costs. It may also help bridge a gap between jobs or meet your living costs until you get your first pay.
We may be able to pay a subsidy to an employer for wages and/or pay for training so you can get the skills you need to do the job. This can be paid while you're working.
Working for Families Tax Credits
If you have dependent children aged 18 years or younger, you may qualify for Working for Families Tax Credits from Inland Revenue. Working for Families Tax Credits are entitlements for families with children. There are four types of payments and you may qualify for one or more, depending on your personal situation.
When you start work and your benefit stops, we’ll tell Inland Revenue so you don’t have to, and they’ll be in touch about your payments.
To find out more about Working for Families Tax Credits call Inland Revenue on 0800 227 773 or visit:
Help with childcare costs can include:
- Childcare Subsidy – if you have pre-school children who go to an early childhood education service
- OSCAR Subsidy – can help pay for your children’s care before or after school and in the school holidays, if you have school-age children and you’re working, training or taking part in a workrelated activity
- Early Learning Payment – helps pay the costs of early childhood education for children aged 18 months to three years who are from families enrolled in selected Family Start or Early Start programmes. If you’re enrolled in Family Start or Early Start you’ll be assigned a family/whānau worker who will contact Work and Income for you.
You may be able to get the Accommodation Supplement to help with your rent, board or the cost of owning a home.
Whether you get the Accommodation Supplement will depend on your accommodation costs, your assets and your income. You must also be a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident and normally live here.
You won’t qualify if you or your partner are tenants living in a social housing property. We may be able to help with other housing-related costs.
If you are a low income ratepayer you may qualify for a rates rebate of up to $500 under the Rates Rebate Scheme. For more details about the Rates Rebate Scheme contact your local council.
You need to advise us if you receive a rates rebate. Please contact us to find out how a rebate may affect your Accommodation Supplement.
The Community Services Card can help with the costs of visiting your doctor and getting prescriptions. It is a family card so you can use it for dependent children aged under 18 years.
If you already have a card you can keep using it – and when it runs out you can apply for another one.
To qualify, your yearly income must be under a certain limit – depending on your personal situation. To find out if you qualify, call our Community Services Card national centre on 0800 999 999
You may also qualify for the Pharmaceutical Subsidy Card if you or your children need a lot of prescriptions each year. To find out more about this card, talk to your pharmacist.
If you don’t qualify for the Community Services Card you may be able to get the High Use Health Card if you visit the doctor often for an ongoing medical condition. You can’t use it for other family members. Ask your doctor about this card.
Help for people with disabilities
If you or a child you are caring for has a disability, we may be able to help.
The Disability Allowance helps with the extra costs you, your partner or child have because of a disability, for example, regular visits to the doctor, medicines, extra heating, special food or travel.
The Child Disability Allowance can help if you are the main caregiver of a dependent child who has a serious physical or intellectual disability. It is not taxed and doesn’t depend on your income or costs. The child must be aged under 18 years, and need constant care and attention for at least 12 months because of their disability.
You may be able to get both the Child Disability Allowance and the Disability Allowance for the same child.
We also have the Modification Grant that helps with the costs of special equipment you may need at work, or changes to your workplace so it’s easier for you to work. To get this you must have a disability that’s likely to last at least six months. You won’t qualify
Help for parents
If you have dependent children, you may be able to get the New Employment Transition Grant to help with your costs if you lose income in your first six months of working. This grant can help if you were on a parent rate of benefit before you started working and you miss out on income in your first six months of working because:
- you, your partner or child are sick or
- you have problems with your childcare arrangements.
Away from Home Allowance
If you have dependent children aged 16 to 17 years living away from home to go on a tertiary or training course, you may be able to get this to help with their living costs.
To qualify you must be on a low income and eligible for family tax credit for the child – and your child must be attending an approved course. How much you get depends on your income, where the child lives and what their accommodation costs are.
It’s important to get in touch with Inland Revenue to talk about child support when you’re working. If you were paying child support from a benefit, you will now need to organise the payments yourself – please call Inland Revenue to discuss your options. You may be entitled to receive Child Support from Inland Revenue once it’s been collected from the other parent.
For more details on child support, contact Inland Revenue child support on 0800 221 221 or visit:
Help for emergencies
If you’re finding it hard to make ends meet, we may be able to help. Conditions apply, including needing to have income and/or assets under a certain amount.
The Special Needs Grant is a one-off payment to help out with urgent things that you really don’t have any other way to pay for, like food, bedding and emergency dental or medical treatment.
You won’t usually have to pay back the Special Needs Grant. There are other conditions so talk with us about your circumstances.
The Temporary Additional Support can help if you’re finding it hard to meet your essential costs while trying to reduce these costs or increase your income.
You will not get the Temporary Additional Support if you currently receive the Special Benefit. Your Special Benefit will continue until you no longer need it.
The Recoverable Assistance Payment may be available if you’re not getting a main benefit and you need something you can’t afford to pay for right now (such as rent or school uniforms).
Paying back a debt
If you have a benefit debt to pay back, you need to make arrangements to pay back your debt, or increase your payments. Call us free on 0800 558 008 and we’ll help you sort it out. It’s important you do it as soon as possible.
Here are some of the ways you can pay off your debt:
- automatic payment from your bank
- posting a cheque (including your Work and Income client number) to:
Work and Income,
PO Box 31-344,
- through deductions from your wages
- over the counter at any New Zealand Post outlet.
If you’re a sole parent you don’t have to increase your payments for the first 91 days of working. That way, you have time to organise other income like child support.
You might not have to pay back your debt straight away if you have just started work, talk to us about this.