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Accommodation Supplement: The Accommodation Supplement is an income and asset-tested payment to help with the cost of housing. It is available to both people receiving a main benefit and those working on low and middle incomes.

AHC: After housing costs.

Away from Home Allowance: The Away from Home Allowance is a weekly payment to help carers with the living costs for 16 or 17 year olds who are living away from home while on a tertiary or training course. The allowance is paid to the carer of the young person.

Benefit Advance Payments: Benefit Advance Payments are recoverable one-off payments available to people on main benefits to meet a particular immediate need for an essential item or emergency costs. They are often paid directly to the provider of the goods and services required.

Best Start: The Best Start Tax Credit is a universal payment to support families with children in the first year of a child’s life. For the second and third years of a child’s life the payment is targeted to low and middle-income families.

BHC: Before housing costs.

Business Training and Advice Grant: The Business Training and Advice Grant is financial assistance for people starting their own business with developing a business plan, training in business skills, advice and project reports.

Child Disability Allowance: The Child Disability Allowance is paid to the main caregiver of a dependent child with a serious disability who needs constant care and attention, and who is likely to need care either permanently or for more than 12 months.

Child Support: Child Support is financial support paid by parents who either don’t live with their children, or who share care of their children with another person.

Childcare Assistance: Childcare Assistance includes income-tested payments to help families to meet the costs of childcare. The two payments available are Childcare subsidy and Out of School Care and Recreation (OSCAR) subsidy.

Childcare subsidy: Childcare subsidy is a payment to help families with the cost of pre-school childcare.

Disability Allowance: The Disability Allowance is an income-tested payment to meet the on-going costs of a health condition or disability. It is an individual-based (rather than family-based) entitlement. Payment is based on actual costs, and requires verification of these costs.

Disability Assistance: There are two main forms of income support for costs associated with health conditions and disability in the welfare system. They are the Disability Allowance, and the Child Disability Allowance. These are separate from any payments made as part of the Health system.

Effective marginal tax rates: The effective marginal tax rate is the effective tax rate that you pay on an additional $1 of income, combining the impact of any taxes and the reduction in any income support payments. Effective marginal tax rates influence peoples’ decisions about whether to increase the amount they work or earn, as they determine how much “cash in the hand” a person receives from additional work or pay.

Emergency Benefit: The Emergency Benefit is available to people in hardship and who are unable to earn enough income for themselves and their family and cannot receive another benefit. Emergency Benefit is income and asset tested.

Reasons for hardship may include:

  • A health condition, injury or disability
  • Their domestic circumstances
  • Their age (e.g. 16 or 17 years), or
  • Any other reason (e.g. residence status). 

Emergency Maintenance Allowance: The Emergency Maintenance Allowance is assistance for sole parents who do not qualify for any other payments.

Family Tax Credit: The Family Tax Credit is an income-tested payment that goes to families with children, including those receiving a main benefit. People receiving main benefits can choose to receive their FTC through MSD (along with their benefit and any other payments) or from Inland Revenue.

Gig economy: The gig economy is a labour market of predominantly temporary employment (short-term contracts and freelance work) rather than permanent employment.

Hardship Assistance: Hardship Assistance is available to help people with immediate needs and essential costs that cannot be met from any other income or assets. Hardship Assistance includes Temporary Additional Support, Special Needs Grants, Benefit Advance Payments and Recoverable Assistance Payments.

Income-Related Rent Subsidy: The Income-Related Rent Subsidy is an income and asset-tested subsidy available to people in public housing (which includes properties provided by both Housing NZ and Community Housing Providers). This subsidy (paid to the housing provider) means that these tenants pay an Income-Related Rent which limits the amount of rent they pay to generally be no more than 25% of their net (after tax) income.

Jobseeker Support: Jobseeker Support was previously (pre-2013) known as the Unemployment Benefit and the Sickness Benefit. People are entitled to this benefit if they are unemployed, seeking employment or unable to work temporarily due to a health condition or disability.

Main benefits: The different main benefits reflect the different circumstances of people needing income support. MSD administers main benefits. There are five main benefit types – these are:

  • Jobseeker Support (JS)
  • Sole Parent Support (SPS)
  • Supported Living Payment (SLP)
  • Youth Payment (YP), and Young Parent Payment (YPP)
  • Emergency Benefit (EB), and
  • Other.

Main benefits are all income tested, but are not asset tested. Main benefits are taxed and are paid on a net basis.

Minimum Family Tax Credit: The Minimum Family Tax Credit is an income and work-tested payment for families with children who do not receive a main benefit and who work a minimum number of hours a week (20 hours for sole parents and 30 hours for couples). It ‘tops up’ the income of low-income families to ensure that they are better off in work than on a benefit.

MyMSD: MyMSD is an online service provided by the MSD and allows people to apply for a benefit or payment online, access a variety of information including payment and debt details, make declarations, update details and book or cancel appointments.

Non-beneficiaries: Non-beneficiaries are people who do not receive a main benefit, but who receive other payments such as supplementary assistance or hardship assistance.

Obligations: General obligations apply to all people receiving a main benefit. There are also particular obligations for different benefit types as well as supplementary and hardship assistance.

Obligation failure: When someone receiving a benefit hasn’t completed an activity they were required to do as part of their obligations then MSD can initiate an obligation failure. Once an obligation failure has been initiated and a letter sent, there are five working days to dispute or re-comply before a sanction is imposed.

Orphan’s Benefit: The Orphan’s Benefit provides income support to the caregiver of a child whose parents can’t support them.

Out of School Care and Recreation (OSCAR) subsidy: OSCAR is a payment which helps families with the costs of before and after school care for up to 20 hours a week, and school holiday programmes for up to 50 hours a week. For families with children aged 5-13.

Papakāinga housing: Whānau-based communal living on ancestral Māori land which may include broader support.

Parental Tax Credit: The Parental Tax Credit was an income-tested payment for 10 weeks after a newborn arrives, for families not receiving a main benefit or paid parental leave. It ceased to exist for children born on or after 1 July 2018 as it was replaced by the Best Start Tax Credit as part of the Families Package.

Recoverable Assistance Payments: Recoverable Assistance Payments provide interest-free recoverable payments to help non-beneficiaries meet essential immediate needs for specific items.

Replacement rates: The replacement rate measures the extent to which out-of-work income support payments ‘replace’ a person’s in-work income. Replacement rates influence peoples’ decisions about whether to work at all.

Social obligations: Social obligations apply to people on a main benefit with children.

Sole Parent Support: Sole Parent Support was previously (pre-2013) known as the Domestic Purposes Benefit. People are entitled to this benefit if they do not have a partner and have at least one dependent child aged under 14 years. In the case of shared custody, only the parent with the greater parenting responsibilities can be paid Sole Parent Support.

Special Needs Grants: Special Needs Grants provide one-off recoverable or non-recoverable payments to people to meet immediate needs. They are available for people on a main benefit and for non-beneficiaries on very low incomes. Special Needs Grants are often paid directly to the provider of the goods and services required.

Stand-down periods: Most main benefits have an initial stand-down period (or ‘non-entitlement period’) where people cannot receive any main benefit payment – usually for one or two weeks depending on the person’s average weekly income in the 6 or 12 months before they applied, and the number of dependent children they have.

Steps to Freedom Grant: The Steps to Freedom Grant helps people released from prison with the costs to establish themselves in the community.

Supplementary Assistance: Supplementary assistance is designed to help low-income people to meet particular costs. The main supplementary assistance payments administered by MSD are:

  • Accommodation Supplement
  • Income-Related Rent Subsidy
  • Childcare Subsidy
  • Out of School Care and Recreation Subsidy
  • Winter Energy Payment
  • Disability Allowance
  • Child Disability Allowance

Supported Living Payment: Supported Living Payment was previously (pre-2013) known as the Invalid’s Benefit. People are entitled to this benefit if they are both permanently and severely restricted in their capacity for work because of a health condition, injury or disability, or are totally blind. Permanent is defined as ‘expected to continue for at least two years’. Severely is defined as ‘not being able to regularly work for 15 hours or more per week in open employment’.

People can also be eligible for Supported Living Payment if they are caring for a person who requires full-time care and attention (other than their partner or spouse)[69]. This can include caring for a dependent child who has a significant disability.

Temporary Additional Support: Temporary Additional Support is a payment of last resort to help people with regular essential living costs that cannot be met from their income or assets.

Unsupported Child’s Benefit: Unsupported Child’s Benefit helps carers supporting a child or young person whose parents can’t care for them because of a family breakdown.

Winter Energy Payment: The Winter Energy Payment is a payment to help superannuitants, and those receiving a main benefit, to heat their homes over winter.

Work Ability Assessment: Recipients of Jobseeker Support may be required to attend and participate in a work ability assessment. This helps to determine what work a person is capable of doing and what MSD can do to help a client find and stay in work.

Working for Families: Working for Families is a suite of payments provided to support families with the costs of children. Inland Revenue administers Working for Families, though MSD administers some of the payments, on Inland Revenue’s behalf, for people receiving main benefits. The payments available are:

  • Family Tax Credit
  • In-Work Tax Credit
  • Minimum Family Tax Credit and
  • Parental Tax Credit and Best Start Tax Credit.

Youth Payment: The Youth Payment is a benefit for people aged from 16-17 years who are not supported by their parents. All Youth Payment recipients are part of the Youth Service.

Young Parent Payment: The Young Parent Payment provides support for 16-19 year olds with dependent children. Young Parent Payment recipients are part of the Youth Service.


69 While the carer is not entitled to Supported Living Payment in their own right, if their partner is entitled to Supported Living Payment the couple will be paid the couple rate of Supported Living Payment (and receive half the payment each).

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