Special Needs Grant
What you get
A Special Needs Grant from Work and Income can help you cover essential or emergency costs that you can't afford. Anyone on a low income can apply and you don’t usually have to repay it.
Special Needs Grants are one-off payments to let you buy goods and services from businesses.
What a Special Needs Grant provides
These are things you may be able to cover with a Special Needs Grant:
- emergency dental or medical treatment
- renewing or getting a new driver licence
- setting up a home for:
- victims of domestic violence
- long-term patients
- released prisoners
- a birth certificate.
If you are affected by a Civil Defence emergency, there are Special Needs Grants to help if you have to leave your home or if you take in someone who has had to leave their home.
Special Needs Grants for food
Buying food is the most common reason someone applies for a Special Needs Grant.
You don't have to repay these grants but there are limits to the amount you can get and how often you can apply.
Who can get it
You can apply for a Special Needs Grant if you:
- urgently have to pay for something you need
- have no other way to pay for it
- are a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident.
Work and Income looks at:
- what your other options are for paying for what you need
- if you have received a Special Needs Grant before and when
- how much you and your partner earn
- any money or assets you and your partner have.
Before you apply
Before applying for a Special Needs Grant, you need to have a quote from a business for the goods or services you need. For food or petrol, Work and Income will want to see where your income has been spent, eg receipts and bank statements.
If you have had help from Work and Income previously, you might be able to sort it out with just a phone call.
How you apply
To apply, call Work and Income and say ‘special needs grant’ at the voice prompt.
- If you're 65 or older, phone 0800 552 002.
- If you're under 65, phone 0800 559 009.
When you call, Work and Income tells you if you need to apply in person or if you can apply over the phone.
Applying in person
If you need to apply in person, you’ll need to bring with you:
- some identification, and
- proof that you (and your partner, if you have one) can’t pay for what you need, eg your bank statement and payslips, and
- a quote from a business for the goods or services you need.
For food or petrol, you don't need a quote but you will need to show where your income has been spent, eg receipts or bank statements.
Acceptable forms of identification
If you’re already getting some form of financial help from Work and Income you need to bring a form of ID, eg a:
- driver licence
- student ID, or
- Community Services Card.
If you aren’t currently getting financial help from Work and Income you need to provide a form of identification — something with your full legal name and date of birth, eg a:
- birth certificate
- NZ passport
- driver licence, or
- proof of your residency status in New Zealand.
If you don’t have any of these, bring 2 documents supporting your identity, eg your marriage certificate, bank statement, phone or power bill.
How long it takes
If you provide all the information they need, Work and Income usually let you know within 1 working day if you can get a grant.
Once you have the grant
Most Special Needs Grants do not need to be repaid.
If you often need to apply for help, you may need to show what you have done to manage your budget yourself.