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Social Security and Welfare

New Zealand - Social Security and Welfare

There is no requirement to make contributions to a social security system in New Zealand. However, employees do make contributions to the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC). This provides funds if the employee has been in an accident, which does not necessarily need to occur in the workplace. The rates of deductions are reviewed on an annual basis and the ACC website provides the latest information on how much an employee should be contributing. There is a system of benefits that are paid out in the event of unemployment or sickness but these are not reliant upon contributions having been made to ACC. They are available to all citizens and permanent residents although they are usually means tested and eligibility will be checked before payouts are made.

Eligibility for benefits is normally based on the length of time a person has spent in the country. There are different criteria for different benefits. Unemployment benefit can be claimed when you have lived in the country for 2 years, although the state pension can only be paid to a person who has lived in the country for 10 years or more.

New Zealand does have a number of reciprocal agreements in place with other countries such as Australia, the UK, Ireland, Canada, and several European nations, which states that those who arrive in New Zealand from those nations are able to apply for the benefits as soon as they need them without the need to wait the minimum period of time. This is no guarantee that a benefit will be paid and applicants will need to be assessed in the same way that a New Zealand citizen or resident is assessed. Those who are from countries that do not have reciprocal agreements with New Zealand are advised to have some kind of insurance to cover their needs until they meet the qualifying criteria for benefits.

If a benefit is deemed to be necessary it is paid at a standard flat rate which is paid to all those receiving the same benefit. There is no pro rata system based on previous income. All benefits can be taxed, if you are receiving enough to pay taxes. The department of Work and Income will deduct tax before the benefit is paid to you, and if you do not yet have a tax number you will need to obtain one before payments can begin.

The state pension is known as Superannuation and is only paid to those who are aged 65 and over. This particular benefit is paid to all and is not means tested, although if you receive a pension from your home country that amount could be deducted from the monies paid to you by New Zealand. In addition to this benefit, claimants could qualify for additional payments which are means tested. The Veteran’s Pension is paid to those who have served in the New Zealand armed forces, are aged 65 or over and who already receive a war disablement pension. If they have been unable to work due to disability then they are able to claim this pension at a younger age.

There is an invalid’s benefit which is paid to those who are considered to have an injury or sickness which his permanent and that will stop them from working. With this benefit claimants can claim extra monies for a partner. Sickness benefit is payable for those who are temporarily unable to work due to an injury or illness. Single parents and older women who find themselves single are able to care for domestic purposes benefit, which can also be paid to those who are caring for a loved one.

Children who are orphaned or who have parents that can no longer care for them are eligible for the Orphans and Unsupported Child’s Benefit. Young people who are independent of their parent’s but who are still in school, training for a job, looking for employment or who cannot work temporarily are able to claim the Independent Youth Benefit. All those who are aged 18 years and older and who are out of work are able to claim Unemployment benefit.

Useful Resources


Work and Income National Office
Level 8 Bowen State Building
Bowen Street
PO Box 12-136
Tel: 0800 559 009
Tel: +64 9 916 0300

Read more about this country

Expat Health Insurance Partners

Bupa Global

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