Can I get financial help if I can’t afford to buy food for my family?
You can call Work and Income on 0800 559 009 and apply for a Special Needs Grant, or go into any Work and Income office. This can cover immediate and essential needs - like food. You will have to show that you have an immediate need for the grant, and no other way of paying for food.
You cannot apply for food money if you have money available to you immediately. You do not need to be on another benefit to claim a Special Needs Grant.
If you don’t have enough money for food you may be able to get supplies from a local food bank. Contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau for more information.
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Can I get Work and Income help with the cost of dental care?
Children and young people aged 17 years or less can receive free dental checks and standard treatments (see our Dentists page).
Dental treatment for adults is usually not free or subsidised (see our Dentists page for the exceptions), but if you are on a low income you may be eligible for financial assistance from Work and Income.
Special Needs Grant for Emergency Dental Treatment
You can get up to $300 to help with the cost of emergency dental treatment (e.g. tooth extraction). This money is normally paid directly to the service provider, and you don’t have to pay it back. You don’t need to be already on a benefit to apply for this.
More about this, including the eligibility criteria, is on the Work and Income website.
Recoverable Assistance Payment (or Advance of Benefit, if you are on a benefit)
You can apply for this if you could not get a Special Needs Grant, or if the Special Needs Grant is not enough to cover the cost of your emergency dental treatment.
The payment is up to $200 (or $1000 for dentures) and is normally paid directly to the service provider. You have to pay this money back.
You can read more about the Advance of Benefit or the Recoverable Assistance Payment on the Work and Income website.
For more information or to apply, contact your local Work and Income office.
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I'm working but on a low income. Am I eligible for any financial assistance?
You might be, depending on your situation.
For example, if you have dependent children you might be eligible for family assistance.
An accommodation supplement can help you cover the cost of rent or – if you own your own home – the cost of mortgage repayments.
You may be eligible for a Community Services Card, a High Use Health Card or Pharmaceutical Subsidy Card to help with health costs,
You can use this online tool to check your eligibility for Work and Income benefits, or make an appointment with Work and Income on 0800 559 009 to discuss your personal situation.
You may also be eligible for tax credits.
Your local Citizens Advice Bureau can help you work out what you might be eligible for.
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Can I get help with the cost of rates payments on my home?
If you own your own home and are on a low income you may be eligible for a Rates Rebate. This is a subsidy on the cost of your rates of around $600 per year.
You need to apply every year to your local council after you receive your annual rates bill.
Read more about this on the Department of Internal Affairs website.
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Is there financial assistance with the cost of heating my home?
If you are receiving a Working and Income benefit (including New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran’s Pension) you will automatically receive a Winter Energy Payment. (If you think you don’t need it you can opt out, online or by calling Work and Income.)
This is a payment of approximately $20-30 per week, depending on whether you are single or a couple and whether you have dependent children, and is paid over the winter months. In 2018 it is paid from 1 July until 29 September; from 2019 it will be paid from 1 May until 1 October.
If you have difficulty in paying your power bills because of financial hardship you can find information about how your electricity provider should treat you, on our Electricity bills and vulnerable consumers page.
If you are dependent on your electricity supply to keep essential medical equipment functioning at home, read our Electricity bills and medically dependent consumers page.