Superannuation and pensions

Veteran’s Pension


Veteran’s Pension was introduced on 1 April 1990 and replaced the former War Veterans’ Allowance, War Pension, War Service Pension and Economic Pension.

Historical changes in the funding of Veteran’s Pension

On 1 July 1999, the funding for Veteran’s Pension was transferred from Vote Work and Income to Vote Veterans’ Affairs – Work and Income. In subsequent years, the funding of Veteran’s Pension remained in Vote Veterans’ Affairs.

Funding for Veteran’s Pension is now in Vote Veterans’ Affairs – Social Development.


Veteran’s Pension is available to ex-service personnel who have served in a war or an emergency and who are:

To qualify for a Veteran’s Pension, these clients must also:

– permanently unable to work
– unable to work for two years or more.

Surviving spouses or partners of Veteran’s Pension recipients may choose to continue receiving a Veteran’s Pension at the single person rate.

A policy change in 1992 allowed veterans receiving New Zealand Superannuation to transfer to a Veteran’s Pension.

Income and residency tests

Veteran’s Pension is not income tested except where:

Qualified recipients aged under 65 who have no spouse included in their pension are subject to a personal earnings test only.

Clients receiving a Veteran’s Pension may receive supplementary benefits to help them meet the necessary costs of living. These supplementary benefits are income tested and/or asset tested in the same way as for clients receiving supplementary benefits while being paid New Zealand Superannuation or a main benefit.

Veteran’s Pension payment ratesTop

The payment rates for Veteran’s Pension are set by legislation. At the ‘M’ tax rate, the combined after-tax amount of Veteran’s Pension 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, while a single person sharing accommodation receives 60% of the married couple rate.

Veteran’s Pension payments are taxable.

Table VP.1 shows rates for Veteran’s Pension payable from 1 April 2012.

table VP.1: Weekly payment rates for Veteran’s Pension (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 the amounts shown are weekly rates, payable from 1 April 2012. Payments of Veteran’s Pension 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 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 can opt to receive payment for themselves only, at the married rate where only one partner qualifies, but without an income test. The exception is if the qualified partner is under 65 years, and then a personal earnings test applies.
  6. For applications accepted before 1 October 1991, payments are made at the rate shown as ‘Married, each, both qualify’.

Numbers receiving a Veteran’s PensionTop

The number receiving a Veteran’s Pension decreased slightly between 2009 and 2012

This pattern (see table VP.2) reflected a combination of:

Table VP.3 shows the reduction in the number of veterans becoming newly eligible for a Veteran’s Pension or transferring from New Zealand Superannuation.

Over three in five Veteran’s Pension recipients were aged 80 or over

Between 2008 and 2012, 64% of Veteran’s Pension recipients were aged 80 or over (see table VP.2). Another 22% were aged 70–79.

table VP.2: Ages of clients receiving a Veteran’s Pension

Age of client at the end of June Clients receiving a Veteran’s Pension1
2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Under 60 years 218 183 138 129 121
60–64 years 462 482 469 394 298
65–69 years 770 851 872 890 902
70–74 years 930 966 978 981 1,023
75–79 years 1,514 1,478 1,273 1,175 1,106
80–84 years 3,029 2,734 2,331 1,969 1,658
85–89 years 2,954 3,245 3,221 3,081 2,759
90 years or over 859 1,077 1,251 1,434 1,682
Total 10,736 11,016 10,533 10,053 9,549


  1. The number of clients recorded in SWIFTT as receiving a Veteran’s Pension at the end of June.

The reduction in grants of Veteran’s Pension (see table VP.3) was driven in large part by the reduction in transfers to Veteran’s Pension. The ageing client base means the number of client deaths is more than the number of new clients.

table VP.3: Periods since clients granted a Veteran’s Pension last received financial assistance

Period since client last received any pension or main benefit Grants of a Veteran’s Pension1
2007/2008 2008/2009 2009/2010 2010/2011 2011/2012
None (clients transferring from another pension or a main benefit) 1,439 1,017 413 364 321
Under 1 year 6 5 6 3 5
1–2 years 4 3 0 4 0
2–4 years 17 15 6 3 3
Had not received financial assistance in the previous 4 years 151 203 157 126 120
Total 1,617 1,243 582 500 449


  1. The number of successful applications for a Veteran’s Pension recorded in SWIFTT during years ended June.

Small numbers of those aged 65 or over were receiving a Veteran’s Pension

In 2012, an estimated 1.5% of those aged 65 or over were receiving a Veteran’s Pension, down from 1.9% in 2008.

Those aged 90 or over became more likely to be receiving a Veteran’s Pension

Between 2008 and 2012, the proportion of those aged 90 or over receiving a Veteran’s Pension increased (from 4.2% to 6.6%). This pattern largely reflected the ageing of World War Two veterans and their partners or spouses.

See table OT.3 for trends since 1990 in the number of clients receiving a Veteran’s Pension.

8If a veteran is eventually able to return to work, the Veteran’s Pension is subject to abatement based on his or her employment outcome.