Some people might say there are few benefits in getting older, but one thing is for sure – absolutely everyone should be checking to make sure they are getting any and all the specialist state benefits they are entitled to.
For many people, that simply means NZ Super, the universal government pension to which all NZ citizens and permanent residents who normally live here are entitled at age 65, regardless of how much they earn from paid work, savings and investments, other assets owned or taxes paid. All eligible people have to do is apply to Work & Income (WINZ) three months before they turn 65.
The current standard rate varies from just over $300 per week for married people, where both partners qualify, to $390.20 for a single person living alone. The same rates apply to NZ Veterans’ pensions, and all recipients automatically receive a SuperGold Card entitling them to a range of discounts and special offers.
However, seniors may also be entitled to financial help with housing costs, paying rates, and health, medical or disability costs. WINZ can also help with emergency or unforeseen costs, through advance payments or special grants, residential care home costs, and childcare costs for seniors who are the main caregiver of a dependent child.
The main benefits and entitlements are summarised in a 36-page brochure, Services for Seniors, which can be downloaded and viewed online via www.seniors.msd.govt.nz.
There are also a range of benefits and entitlements for older people in need of financial assistance aged between 55 and 64. According to WINZ, at the end of June 2017, there were a total of 61,923 people aged 55 to 64 in receipt of a main benefit.
Of these, the majority were receiving either Jobseeker Support or Supported Living Payment, with a small number receiving Sole Parent Support.
“For those looking for work, we provide all of our usual employment support services,” Ministry of Social Development media advisor Raewyn Jones says. “We also offer redundancy support for anyone impacted by this.”
Details of all benefits available and who is eligible are available online at www.workandincome.govt.nz, or call the WINZ Contact Centre – the general enquiries number, for those under 65, is 0800 559 009 and the Seniors’ general enquiries line is 0800 552 002. The Contact Centre team can provide advice over the phone and, if required, arrange appointments.