How do I get a decision reviewed if I disagree with my benefit assessment?
If you think that Work and Income have made a wrong decision about your benefit you have a right to appeal that decision. In general the best first step would be to discuss the decision with your case manager and ask them to reconsider. If they don’t reconsider, or you don’t want to discuss it with them you can apply for a formal review of the decision.
You can either complete areview of decision form and send it to your local Work and Income branch or write a letter explaining your situation. You generally need to do this within three months of the original decision.
If Work and Income agrees with your application, they will ask you to come into their offices to complete some forms so that the original arrangements can be changed.
If they decide that the original decision does not need to be changed, your review application will automatically be passed on to the Benefits Review Committee (or a Medical Appeals Board, if it is in relation to a Child Disability Allowance, Invalid’s Benefit or Sickness Benefit) and you’ll be asked to contact them to arrange a date and time for a hearing.
You can appeal a Benefits Review Committee decision by applying to the Social Security Appeal Authority, an independent judicial tribunal. The Ministry of Social Development may be able to help you with the costs of attending the hearing.
For more information see the Work and Income webpage on reviewing a decision.
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I have had problems dealing with Work and Income staff - is there an advocate who can help?
If you have difficulty explaining your needs to Work and Income staff or feel like you need more support, an advocate or representative can help you. An advocate can provide you with information and support in dealing with Work and Income. They will ensure that you know all of your rights and will support you in your dealings with Work and Income. This includes being your support person at a Benefit Review Committee hearing, or just being available to ensure you know what to expect at a hearing or appeal.
If you want them to act on your behalf then you will need to give consent. For a face to face meeting verbal consent may be sufficient, otherwise you will have to give written consent (see the next question).
The Ministry of Social Development has a list of organisations which provide free legal advice and advocacy, otherwise we can help you find an advocate.
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I want my nephew to be the person that Work and Income contacts on my behalf – how do we go about it?
Someone might want to have a representative (or agent) who deals with Work and Income on their behalf because:
- of language difficulties or other problems with communication
- they are overseas
- they can’t get to the Work and Income office easily
- of illness
- they live in residential care or an institution
- they’ve been served with a trespass notice and are not allowed to enter a WINZ office
- they disagree with a Work and Income decision and want help or advice.
You can choose anyone to be your representative as long as they are not your partner, they are aged 18 years or over, and they don’t have a trespass order served against them which prevents them from entering a WINZ office. It’s best to choose someone you trust, for example a close family member, your lawyer or an advocate (see the previous question).
Because the person who will represent you will have access to confidential information held about you, you will need to provide a written agreement which includes:
- your name and the name of your representative
- exactly what you allow your representative to do on your behalf
- both of your signatures
Alternatively, you can download and sign an Appointment of agent form from the Work and Income website.
You will also need to provide some proof of your representative’s identity e.g. passport.
Your representative should only do what you tell them to do, and you don’t lose the right to talk to Work and Income or act on your own behalf if you appoint a representative.
More information about appointing a representative is on the Work and Income website.