Special Needs Grants are one-off payments made to those who have immediate or emergency needs and who have no other way of paying to meet those needs. Most Special Needs Grants are non-recoverable. Recoverable Special Needs Grants have to be repaid to Work and Income.
Special Needs Grants are available both to people who are receiving a main benefit and to people who are not.
As well as lump-sum payments to meet a range of specific expenses, Special Needs Grants include re-establishment grants targeted at particular groups of clients. Clients who may be eligible for re-establishment grants include:
Residency, income and cash asset tests apply.
Recoverable Assistance Payments were introduced in 1996 to replace most recoverable Special Needs Grants for people not receiving a benefit.
These payments provide non-taxable, interest-free recoverable financial assistance to non-beneficiaries. The aim is to enable them to meet essential immediate needs for specific items and services.
Clients may have access to Recoverable Assistance Payments up to a maximum value of six weeks’ worth of an Invalid’s Benefit or the maximum amount allowed for specific cost categories.
Any low-income earner may apply for a Recoverable Assistance Payment for immediate and essential expenses.
When approving a Recoverable Assistance Payment, Work and Income staff must:
To receive a Recoverable Assistance Payment, a client must:
Income and asset limits, and the maximum payment amounts available, vary according to the age and circumstances of the applicant (see table HA.1). In exceptional circumstances, a client may be granted a payment if their cash assets exceed the limit shown in this table.
table HA.1: Income limits, cash asset limits and maximum payments for
Recoverable Assistance Payments (applicable from 1 April 2012)
|Client category||Cash asset limit1||Income limit1,2||Maximum payment1,2|
|Single person 16–17 years||$1,025.11||$24,347.96||$1,243.92|
|Single person 18 years or over||$1,025.11||$27,983.80||$1,537.14|
|Married couple with or without children||$1,708.10||$40,644.24||$2,561.88|
|Sole parent with one child||$1,708.10||$33,956.52||$2,019.30|
|Sole parent with two or more children||$1,708.10||$35,744.96||$2,019.30|
The maximum Recoverable Assistance Payments apply for a number of purposes. The maximum payments applicable from 1 April 2012 are shown in table HA.2.
table HA.2: Maximum Recoverable Assistance Payments for specific purposes (applicable from 1 April 2012)
|Payment purpose||Status1||Maximum payment2|
|Ambulance subscription fees||$200.00|
|Attendance at funerals and tangihanga||$200.00|
|Beds, chairs and tables||$200.00|
|Bonds and rent||$600.00|
|Car seats and safety helmets||$200.00|
|Clothing||Single client without children||$150.00|
|Married without children||$300.00|
|Single or married with children||$400.00|
|Dentures, glasses, contact lenses and hearing aids||$1,000.00|
|Driver licences||Renewals||Client aged under 75 years||$43.90|
|Client aged 75 or over||$18.70|
|Client aged 75 or over who requires an On-Road Safety Test||$60.50|
|Reinstatement of driver’s licence||$66.40|
|Electricity, gas or water||$200.00|
|Fire, loss or burglary||$1,000.00|
|Other emergency payments||$200.00|
|School uniforms (for each dependent child)||$300.00|
|Tenancy tribunal fees||$20.44|
|Travel for stranded persons||$200.00|
|Washing machines and fridges||$400.00|
Benefit advances of up to six weeks’ worth of the main benefit received are available to all recipients of a main benefit.
Advance payments of main benefits enable benefit recipients to meet one-off needs that:
The advance is recovered: