Can I receive a benefit if I’m unemployed?
You may be eligible for a Jobseeker Support benefit if you are
- not working full-time, but actively looking for full-time work (e.g. preparing your CV, attending work seminars, applying for jobs) or if you are temporarily unable to work full-time because your ability to work is limited by a health condition, injury or disability, and
- aged 18 years or over (or at least 19 years if you have dependent children), and
- a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident and have lived in New Zealand for at least two years at any one time since becoming a citizen or permanent resident.
If you (or your partner) have any other income, this will be taken into account when determining whether you are eligible.
The amount of income support you receive will depend on things like your accommodation costs, relationship status and whether your income supports other people. The latest rates are on the Work and Income website.
For more information, you can contact your nearest Citizens Advice Bureau or call Work and Income (WINZ) on 0800 559 009.
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What are my obligations if I receive Jobseeker Support?
Before receiving the benefit, you may have to do things like prove that you have been looking for work and attending an employment seminar. (More about pre-benefit activities is on the Work and Income website).
If you have a partner, they will have to complete part of your application form. They’ll also have to:
- look for full time work (if you don’t have children aged under 14 years)
- look for part-time work if you have a child aged three to 13 years
- prepare for work if you have children younger than three years
If you are still unemployed after 12 months you will need to re-apply for this benefit; if you don’t re-apply your benefit payments might stop.
The full list of obligations associated with receiving Jobseeker Support is on the Work and Income website. There are also general conditions associated with receiving a Work and Income benefit.
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I've lost my job. Do I have to wait before I can get an unemployment benefit?
If you are eligible for Jobseeker Support, there is an initial stand-down period of up to two weeks from the date of entitlement.
If you have quit your job because you simply don't want to work there any more (or because you were fired for misconduct), there may be a 13 week stand-down period before you start receiving payments (there are exceptions).
You may still be able to get emergency assistance such as food grants or a loan from WINZ if you run out of money before you are due to receive the benefit payments. You can contact your local Work and Income office or enquire online. You can also contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau to help you find out whether you are eligible for emergency assistance from Work and Income.
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Does the stand down period for Jobseeker Support apply if I am dismissed within a trial period?
If you were employed for a trial period and you were given notice of dismissal within that period, you will generally not have a stand-down period before receiving JobSeeker Support payments (assuming you are eligible for this benefit).
More information about Jobseeker Support if your job ceases within a trial period, is on the Work and Income website.
Information about other situations where no stand-down period applies is on the Work and Income website.
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Is there any income support for people under 18 years old?
There are two main benefits for youth - Youth Payment and Youth Parent Payment.
Youth Payment is for 16-17 year olds who are unemployed, cannot get financial support from family or a partner and do not have children.
The Youth Parent Payment is for young people who have children and includes a childcare payment. Both payments have a number of eligibility criteria, but in general applicants must be:
- aged 16-17 (or 16-18 if you are have dependent children and have no partner) and
- a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident and
- unable to get financial support from their parents or anyone else.
The Youth Service provider assigned to you will ensure that all of your important expenses (e.g. accommodation, power bills, debts) are met. A weekly allowance, and any money left over from paying the bills, is deposited into a payment card which you use to buy approved items from shops registered to accept payment cards.
You can check your eligibility and apply online, or contact your local service centre or Community Link. The Citizens Advice Bureau can provide you with information and assistance.
There are obligations associated with receiving the Young Parent Payment and the Youth Payment, as well as general conditions associated with receiving a Work and Income benefit.
More information about the Youth Payment and the Young Parent Payment is on the Work and Income website and the Youth Service website.
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Am I entitled to any benefits as a single parent?
If you are a single parent with dependent children under 14 years old, you may be eligible for either Sole Parent Support or Jobseeker Support. If you have dependent children aged 14 years or older, you may be eligible for Jobseeker Support, see our first question.
Sole Parent Support
This benefit is for single parents with children under 14 years of age. You may qualify for the Sole Parent payment if you:
- are a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident who has lived here for at least two years since becoming a citizen or permanent resident, and normally live here;
- do not have adequate financial support;
- are not in a relationship;
- have dependent children who are under 14; and
- you are aged 19 or older (if you are younger you may be eligible for the Young Parent Payment).
You can check your eligibility, find out how much you might receive and apply online. If you need to attend a meeting with a Work and Income case manager, it’s a good idea to have all supporting documentation with you.
There are a number of conditions you have to fulfil while you are receiving the Sole Parent Support and these are listed on the Work and Income website.
To find out more about the Sole Parent Support payment you can visit the Work and Income website, call Work and Income on 0800 559 009 or visit your local Citizens Advice Bureau.