Superannuation and pensions

New Zealand Superannuation


New Zealand Superannuation is available to people who:

New Zealand Superannuation may be paid to people who:

People receiving New Zealand Superannuation on this basis do so as a ‘non-qualified spouse’.

Income and residency tests

New Zealand Superannuation is not income tested, except when a non-qualified spouse is included in the payment.

Clients receiving New Zealand Superannuation may receive supplementary benefits to help them meet the necessary costs of living. These supplementary benefits are income tested and/or asset tested, the same as they are for other clients receiving supplementary benefits.

Residency tests apply to New Zealand Superannuation. To meet residency requirements, a client must have been present and resident in New Zealand6:

People who do not meet these residency requirements may be eligible to receive an Emergency Benefit if they:

Historical changes in the administration of New Zealand Superannuation

On 1 April 1992, the qualifying age for New Zealand Superannuation was increased from 60 years to 61 years. The qualifying age then increased by three months every six months from 1 April 1993 until it was fixed at 65 years from 1 April 2001.

Payment rates for New Zealand SuperannuationTop

Payment rates for New Zealand Superannuation are set by legislation. At the ‘M’ tax rate, the combined after-tax amount of New Zealand Superannuation payable to a married couple must be between 65% and 72.5% of the after-tax average ordinary-time weekly wage.

A single person living alone receives 65% of the rate payable to a married couple. A single person sharing accommodation receives 60% of the married couple rate.

Where one spouse or partner is a non-qualified spouse, there are two options available:

A client may at any time choose to include or exclude their non-qualifying spouse from their pension payment.

New Zealand Superannuation payments are made gross of tax. Recipients pay tax on this pension at the rate appropriate to their financial circumstances.

Table NZ.1 shows rates for New Zealand Superannuation payable from 1 April 2012.

table NZ.1: Weekly payment rates for New Zealand Superannuation (payable from 1 April 2012)

Status1 Payment rate excluding tax paid at ‘M’ rate2,3 Payment rate excluding tax paid at ‘S’ rate2,3
Married, each, both qualify4 $268.40 $249.55
Married, each, only one qualifies5,6 $255.09 $236.24
Single, living alone4 $348.92 $330.07
Single, living with others4 $322.08 $303.23


  1. ‘Married’ includes people who are married, living as married or in a civil union.
  2. All amounts shown are weekly rates, payable from 1 April 2012. Payments of New Zealand Superannuation are made fortnightly at double the rates shown above.
  3. The rates shown are exclusive of Working for Families Tax Credits paid by Inland Revenue.
  4. The rates shown for single people or where both partners qualify are not income tested.
  5. Where one spouse or partner is a non-qualified spouse (eg they are under the qualifying age or do not meet residency requirements), the amount paid is income tested. As an alternative, the qualified spouse or partner can opt to receive payment for themselves only, receiving a payment of half the married rate but without an income test.
  6. For applications accepted before 1 October 1991, payments are made at the rate shown as ‘Married, each, both qualify’.

Numbers receiving New Zealand SuperannuationTop

The number receiving New Zealand Superannuation increased between 2008 and 2012

This increase (see table NZ.2) reflected the impact of:

Over one in two of those receiving New Zealand Superannuation were aged 65–74

Over this period, 56% of New Zealand Superannuation recipients were aged 65–74 (see table NZ.2). Another 11% of these clients were aged 85 or over.

table NZ.2: Ages of clients receiving New Zealand Superannuation

Age of client at the end of June Clients receiving New Zealand Superannuation1
2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Under 60 years2 3,179 3,226 3,273 3,441 3,513
60–64 years2 9,781 9,909 10,105 10,340 10,472
65–69 years 158,186 165,498 171,680 176,441 188,129
70–74 years 117,332 122,396 130,506 140,538 150,117
75–79 years 97,581 97,821 98,498 99,337 101,912
80–84 years 71,026 72,895 74,585 76,866 78,101
85–89 years 38,431 40,222 41,984 43,421 44,882
90 years or over 18,760 18,791 19,889 20,855 21,807
Total 514,276 530,758 550,520 571,239 598,933


  1. The number of clients recorded in SWIFTT as receiving New Zealand Superannuation at the end of June.
  2. Clients receiving New Zealand Superannuation while under the qualifying age of 65 years are non-qualified spouses.

Four in five of the clients granted New Zealand Superannuation were previously independent of the benefit system

Eighty-one percent of clients granted New Zealand Superannuation in 2011/2012 had not received a pension or a main benefit in the previous four years (see table NZ.3). This compared with 76% in 2007/2008.

There was a corresponding fall in the proportion of these clients who transferred from a pension or a main benefit (from 18% to 15%).

table NZ.3: Periods since clients granted New Zealand Superannuation last received
financial assistance

Period since client last received any pension or main benefit New Zealand Superannuation pensions granted1
2007/2008 2008/2009 2009/2010 2010/2011 2011/2012
None (clients transferring from another pension or from a main benefit) 7,252 7,458 7,454 7,742 8,549
Under 1 year 681 699 687 723 858
1–2 years 548 660 568 503 651
2–4 years 991 1,027 1,047 987 935
Had not received financial assistance in the previous 4 years 30,048 34,747 36,769 38,352 45,666
Total 39,520 44,591 46,525 48,307 56,659


  1. The number of successful applications for New Zealand Superannuation recorded in SWIFTT during years ended June.

Almost all people aged 65 or over were receiving New Zealand Superannuation

In 2012, an estimated 95.7% of people aged 65 or over were receiving New Zealand Superannuation, up from 93.2% in 20087.

See table OT.3 for trends since 1940 in the number of clients receiving New Zealand Superannuation.

Those aged 65–69 were more likely than older people to be receiving New Zealand Superannuation

This reflected both growth in the number of people aged 80 or over and patterns in the use of Veteran’s Pension. Reflecting the ageing of those receiving Veteran’s Pension, the proportion of those aged 90 or over receiving New Zealand Superannuation decreased between 2008 and 2012 (from 92.2% to 85.9%) while the proportion of those aged 65–90 doing so increased.

5‘Married’ includes clients who are married, living as married or in a civil union.
6New Zealand currently has eight Social Security Agreements with other countries. Residence and/or contributions in one of these countries can be used in some situations to help meet the New Zealand residence requirements.
7A small number of people aged 65 years or over do not receive New Zealand Superannuation. This group mainly comprises people who do not meet the eligibility criteria for New Zealand Superannuation (usually because they do not meet the residency criteria) or who choose not to apply for personal reasons.