Special Needs Grant

A Special Needs Grant is a one-off payment to help you pay an essential or emergency cost if you can't pay it another way.


  • You don't have to be on a benefit to qualify for this help.
  • You usually don't have to pay the money back.
  • Who can get it

    You may be able to get a Special Needs Grant if you:

    • have an essential or emergency cost you can't pay for
    • have no other way to pay for this cost
    • either:
      • are a New Zealand citizen
      • are a permanent resident, or
      • have a residence class visa
    • normally live in New Zealand and intend to stay here.

    When you have an emergency cost, we'll also look at:

    • whether you knew the cost was going to come up
    • whether you could have covered the cost yourself
    • how the Special Needs Grant will help your situation.

    There may also be extra criteria you need to meet depending on the essential or emergency cost you apply for .

    It may also depend on:

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

    Income limits

    If you are: Weekly income before tax is less than Annual income before tax is less than
    single, 16-17 years $514.41 $26,749.32
    single, 18+ years $591.20 $30,742.40
    married, civil union or de facto couple (with or without children) $858.72 $44,653.44
    sole parent (1 child) $717.40 $37,304.80
    sole parent (2+ children) $755.82 $39,302.64

    Asset limits

    These don't include what you need for day-to-day living, eg your home or your car. They do include money in the bank, or things like a caravan or a second property.

    If you are: Your assets are worth less than
    single $1,126.21
    married, civil union or de facto couple (with or without children) or sole parent $1,876.56
  • What you can get

    How much you get depends on your situation and what you need help with.

    Essential costs could include things like:

    • bedding
    • driver licence
    • effluent treatment system maintenance and repair
    • food
    • health travel costs
    • laser therapy to remove birthmarks
    • vasectomies
    • wigs and hairpieces
    • breast pump if you can't breastfeed because you or your baby have health issues.

    Emergency costs could include things like:

    • ambulance fees
    • dental treatment
    • medical treatment
    • medical equipment
    • water tank refill.
  • How to apply

    You need to call us on 0800 559 009

    We'll talk with you to understand your situation and how we can help. We'll let you know what information you need to provide and how to get this to us.

  • What happens next

    If your application is approved, we'll give you a payment card (if you don't already have one) and load the money onto it. We'll talk to you about how to get this to you.

    You have 7 days to spend the money before it expires.

    Using your payment card

    A payment card is like an Eftpos card and you can use it at any supermarket or store that accepts them.

    You can login to MyMSD to see how much you have left on your payment card and when it expires.

    Once you've used your payment card, keep it. You can use it again if you need help from us in the future.