What you get
The Disability Allowance helps to cover the extra costs of medical help, equipment, transport and running your home when you have an ongoing disability or illness.
The amount you get depends on the extra costs you have because of your disability and your income. It is not taxed and is paid directly to your bank account.
Work and Income manages the Disability Allowance. You don’t have to be on a benefit to qualify for a Disability Allowance.
What disability is
A disability is an impairment — physical, intellectual or sensory — that lasts for more than 6 months and limits your ability to carry out day-to-day activities.
The Human Rights Act has a full definition in section 21(1)(h).
What you can claim for
The costs you claim for must be:
- directly related to your disability or illness
- agreed to by your doctor or another registered health practitioner, like a physiotherapist or an optometrist.
The Disability Allowance helps to pay for extra costs relating to:
- your medical and health needs
- equipment and supplies related to your illness or disability
- travel for health reasons or because of your disability.
Check with your doctor to find out which costs you can claim. Use the checklist to get an overview.
Ask Work and Income if you’re not sure what costs you can claim.
Eligibility and how to apply
The Work and Income website has more information about:
- who can get the Disability Allowance
- how to apply for yourself or on behalf of someone else.
You can use the online tool to check if what financial assistance may be available.
Who can get it
To get the Disability Allowance, you must have a disability, impairment or illness that:
- is likely to last at least 6 months — it can be less if you are in the last stages of a terminal illness
- means you need ongoing help or medical care as a result.
To apply, you also need to be a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident who normally lives in New Zealand and plans to stay here.
If your disability is the result of an accident, then your care is covered by the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC).
Your financial situation
You’ll usually qualify if you’re already on a benefit, except NZ Super or a Veteran’s Pension.
In all other cases it depends on how much you, and your partner if you have one, earn. Check the income limits under ‘Who can get it’ on the Work and Income website.
The amounts are reviewed every year on 1 April.
Before you apply
Most people talk to their doctor or health practitioner about what they need before they apply for the Disability Allowance. A doctor or registered health practitioner must approve the costs you claim.
To help with your application, you can:
- make a list of the things you want to claim for — your doctor lists approved expenses on the application form and if you miss something you’ll have to go back to your doctor again to get it added
- get an invoice, receipt, quote or printout for each cost you want to claim — you’ll need these for your application.
Here are some examples of the information you can collect for your application:
- doctor’s or medical fees — keep the receipt or invoice showing the date, cost and reason for your visit
- travel to your doctor or hospital:
- keep your ticket or receipt showing the date, cost and how you travelled
- if you travelled by car, supply the cc rating of your car and how far you travelled
- ask your chemist for a print-out of your medications including the date, cost and if they are subsidised, or
- keep your receipts.
- heating — provide your electricity bills, or if you have an interview with Work and Income, you may be able to show them your power usage online.
You can ask Work and Income for a Disability Allowance file to keep your receipts in.
How you apply
- Complete the parts of the application form that apply to you. If you have not applied for help from Work and Income before, you need to give them personal information first.
- Ask your doctor to list the costs you want to claim for and complete the Disability Certificate part of the form. There are extra steps if you’re claiming for a medical alarm or counselling.
- Gather all your receipts and any other evidence of the costs you are claiming.
- Make an appointment with Work and Income.
- Take your completed form and receipts to the meeting.
Work and Income usually pay you from the date you first contact them if they get your completed application within 20 working days of that date. If you have a good reason for not completing your application within 20 days, contact Work and Income to ask for an extension.
Getting the application form
You can get an application form by:
- visiting a Work and Income service centre
- asking Work and Income to post one to you
- downloading it.
There are 2 different application forms.
- Use the Disability Allowance Application if you are already getting a payment from Work and Income.
- Use the Extra Help Application if this is the first time you’ve applied.
Making an appointment with Work and Income
You can make an appointment online, by phone or by going to a service centre.
To make an appointment online you need to register and set up MyAccount on the Work and Income website. As part of this, you also need to set up a RealMe account.
When you set up your MyAccount, you need to call Work and Income for a one-time password. You can ask for forms or make an appointment at the same time.
Freephone: 0800 559 009
Making an appointment if you get NZ Super or a Veteran’s Pension
Make an appointment with the Ministry of Social Development by:
- calling freephone 0800 559 009
- filling out the online form.
What happens next
If your application is complete, you normally find out within 5 days if it’s been approved.
Your Disability Allowance is usually paid straight into your bank account. If you receive another benefit, including NZ Super, your Disability Allowance is added to that benefit. If the Disability Allowance is the only government help you’re getting, you get paid weekly.
When you’re getting the Disability Allowance
You must tell Work and Income about any changes that may affect your payments, like changes in your living situation or income.
Reviewing your Disability Allowance
Work and Income reviews your Disability Allowance for any changes that relate to your circumstances. They send you either a ‘Confirming your Circumstances’ review form or an ‘Annual Circumstances’ letter.
They can ask for receipts for any new or increased costs. You also need to ask your doctor to confirm any costs for new items or services you want to include in your Disability Allowance.
How often your Disability Allowance is reviewed
If you get NZ Super or a Veteran’s Pension
Work and Income reviews your Disability Allowance every year. For most people the review happens around the anniversary of starting their pension. Your review date may be different if you have a younger partner included in your NZ Super payment.
If you get the Supported Living Payment
Work and Income reviews your Disability Allowance 6 months after you start receiving the Supported Living Payment. They’ll review it again every 12 months after that.
If you do not send the Confirming your Circumstances review form back in time, your Supported Living Payment and your Disability Allowance payments stop.
If you’re on another benefit
Work and Income take the opportunity to review your Disability Allowance when you contact them to let them know your circumstances have changed.
Confirming your Circumstances review form
You need to:
- complete the form and update any costs listed on it for your Disability Allowance
- gather receipts for any new or increased costs
- take the form to your doctor so they can renew your Disability Certificate — they’ll also need to approve any new or increased costs.
- return the form to Work and Income within 8 weeks.
Contact Work and Income immediately if you need an extension — for example, you’ve been in hospital or are travelling overseas with Work and Income’s approval. The normal extension is 10 working days and you need a good reason to ask for one.
Your Disability Allowance and any other benefits you receive stop if you do not send the form back in time. If you get NZ Super or a Veteran’s Pension, those payments continue and only Disability Allowance payments stop.
Annual Circumstances letter
Only contact Work and Income if you need to update the information in the letter about your circumstances. If you do not contact Work and Income, your Disability Allowance continues to be paid at the same rate.
When you no longer need the Disability Allowance
Contact Work and Income online, by phone or in person to tell them.
Contacting Work and Income
If you have any queries or want to make an appointment with Work and Income, you can contact them online, by phone or in person.
If you have an online account with Work and Income, you can log in to ask for help or manage your payments.
If you’re 65 or over, you can use the online contact form to make an appointment.
Freephone 0800 559 009, if you’re under 65.
Freephone 0800 552 002, if you’re 65 or older.
If you need to talk to Work and Income about your situation, then you’ll need to make an appointment first. You can collect forms or get general information from a service centre without making an appointment.