Money underpins our health and well-being, our lifestyles and our dreams. For those in their income-earning prime, managing money is often everyone else’s problem not theirs. But for those approaching retirement, maintaining an income stream, ticking off those dreams and topping up the contingency pot for long-term healthcare can be a hard ask.
And that’s where superannuation taxpayer entitlements and benefits can help. Taxpayer support for seniors dates back to the ‘Old Age Pensions Act’ of 1898, when the Govt voted to provide small monthly pensions (£18 a year) for the ‘deserving aged and poor’ based on the principle that the State had a responsibility to support people who could not support themselves. It was radical legislation unheard of in any British country and it laid the foundation for our welfare state.
The pension as we know today is officially ‘New Zealand Superannuation’ and it sits alongside a raft of other help for those of retirement age. Here is a guideline to help you balance your ledger and your lifestyle:
New Zealand Superannuation
This is a fortnightly payment for everyone over 65 who is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident and who normally lives in this country. You must have lived here for at least 10 years since you turned 20. For five of those years you must have been over the age of 50. Time spent overseas in certain countries may be counted for superannuation.
You’ll automatically receive your ‘SuperGold’ card when your superannuation is granted.
Superannuation payments vary depending your status and whether you are living alone or in a relationship and whether your partner is old enough to qualify or not. As a guideline, a single person living alone gets $310.95 a week after tax and a couple (married, de facto or civil union) receive $478.38 a week in total. Superannuation may be income tested in some instances.
This pension is paid if you have served in the New Zealand Armed Forces in a war or other emergency. You must be a New Zealand resident who normally lives in the country.
You must be either:
- Aged 65 years or over and have a War Disablement Pension accepted at a qualifying rate of disablement; or
- Aged under 65 years with a disability that stops you working long-term or permanently.
As a veteran’s pensioner, you are issued with a Veteran’s SuperGold/Community Services card, which can help with costs such as doctor’s visits and prescription charges. The Community Services Card normally needs to be applied for and is income tested, but Veteran’s pensioners get it automatically without any income test.
Living Alone Payment
This is an extra payment and is paid to you as a superannuitant or veteran’s pensioner if you are living in your ‘principal place of residence’. It recognises the extra costs of maintaining a house on your own.
It may also be paid in some cases where you are not living alone, such as if you are living with a child under the age of 18, living with a dependent child aged 18 years (and still attending school or a tertiary facility until the end of the year in which they turn 18) or living with a visitor who stays less than 13 weeks in any 26 week period.
It may also be paid to you if your partner is in long term hospital or rest home care or in prison. The Living Alone payment is not income or asset tested.
This is a weekly payment which helps you with your rent, board or the cost of owning a home. The rate of this supplement depends on where you live, your family situation (single/ married/children) and how much your accommodation costs you. The Accommodation Supplement is both income and asset tested.
‘Income’ includes money earned, ACC, investments, business earnings, private pensions and rent. ‘Assets’ may include savings, shares, stocks, loans to others as well as caravans, boats and investment properties. Your housing costs must be over a certain amount and your income and assets under certain limits. The Accommodation Supplement is not paid if you or your partner rent a Housing New Zealand property. You may qualify for rent subsidies calculated on your income instead.
If you’re a rate payer on a low income you may qualify for a Rates Rebate under the Rates Rebate Scheme. This rebate may affect the amount of supplement. Your local council can help you with more detail on your rates rebate scheme.
The allowance is paid to you weekly if you have regular, ongoing costs because of a disability. These costs include visits to the doctor or hospital, medicines, gardening and travel.
To qualify, you must meet an income test, have a disability (or health condition) that is likely to last at least six months and have ongoing, additional costs arising from that disability. You must be a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident normally living in the country. The War Disablement Pension is not included as income in this case.
Special Disability Allowance
This is a weekly payment paid if your partner is either in a hospital or rest home for at least 13 weeks or getting a Residential Care Subsidy (see this article elsewhere in this section).
Other Extra Help
The range of other extra help includes Special Needs Grants and an Advance Payment of Benefit both of which are income and asset tested, and the Temporary Additional Support which is cash-asset tested.
A Special Needs Grant is a one off payment to help with urgent things like food and emergency dental or medical treatment. The payment of this grant depends on individual circumstances and you must have no other proven way of meeting these costs to qualify.
If you are receiving superannuation, a veteran’s pension or another benefit, and you need immediate help, you may qualify for an Advance Payment of Benefit. This payment will need to be paid back.
Work and Income 0800 552 002
Ministry of Social Development www.seniors.msd.govt.nz