If you can't support yourself and you're not able to get any other help from Work and Income, you can apply for the Emergency Benefit.
You can apply for an Emergency Benefit if you:
- can't support yourself or your family
- are suffering hardship, and
- aren't able to get any other benefit from Work and Income.
The Emergency Benefit is income and asset tested.
You need to be suffering from hardship to get an Emergency Benefit. This means you:
- don't earn much money
- have little or no savings or other cash assets, and
- have no means of supporting yourself or your family.
Work and Income also take other things into account, such as:
- the reasons you can't receive any other benefits — such as not meeting the residency requirements
- whether your partner, if you have one, is able to get a benefit
- why you can't earn enough money to support yourself or your family if:
- you're unable to work due to a health condition
- you have to care for someone else.
- your age
- the ways you've tried to fix your situation — such as looking for other work
- what would happen to you or your family if you don't get an Emergency Benefit.
To qualify for an Emergency Benefit your savings and cash assets must be equal to or less than
- $4,300 if you're single with no dependent children
- $7,464 if you're married, in a civil union or de facto relationship, or a solo parent.
Cash assets are assets belonging to you and your partner that can easily be converted into cash. They include:
- money in bank accounts
- shares, stocks or bonds, including building society shares
- investments or loans, including mortgage investments
- bills of exchange or promissory notes — like an IOU
- property or land that isn't used as your home
- shares in any partnership.
Your car, and personal effects that belong to you or your partner, don't count as cash assets. Work and Income also don't include any caravan, boat or other vehicle that:
- is worth less than $2,000, and
- you or someone in your family is living in.
How to apply
Call Work and Income.
Freephone: 0800 559 009 (NZ only)
If you're eligible you'll need to go in for an interview with a Work and Income case manager. They'll need to see proof of any payments you have, such as rent or hire purchase agreements. You'll be told what you need to bring in when you make the appointment.
What you'll get
The amount you get is up to Work and Income. It's usually the same amount as the amount of the main benefit you'd get in different circumstances. Work and Income call this an 'analogous benefit'.
For example, if you'd be eligible for NZ Superannuation because of your age but you don't meet the residency requirements, Work and Income would look at the Jobseeker Support, Sole Parent Support or Supported Living Payment benefits — depending on your personal situation — when they work out an Emergency Benefit rate for you.
Normally if you're granted an Emergency Benefit, you'll have the same obligations as a person on the 'analogous benefit' — that is the main benefit you'd get in different circumstances — but it is up to Work and Income. Work and Income must tell you what the conditions of the Emergency Benefit are and also give you the conditions in writing.
There are 2 reviews that happen each year if you're receiving an Emergency Benefit — a review of your circumstances and a review of your income.