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How to Claim Unemployment Benefits in New Zealand

Claiming unemployment benefits is not a pleasant experience for anyone. Finding yourself out of work can be demoralising and depressing. But if you do find yourself in this position in New Zealand, you have to make sure that you take advantage of the income support that is available. Luckily, New Zealand has quite a generous benefits system in place, so hopefully the experience should not be too bad.

What Benefits are Available:

In New Zealand, there are four unemployment benefits available. To receive any of these benefits you must be either a citizen of New Zealand, or permanent resident. The benefits are:


  • Jobseeker Support
  • Youth Payment
  • Youth Parent Payment
  • Sole Parent Support

Jobseeker Support

Jobseeker support is a benefit designed to supplement unemployed people’s income while they look for a new job. It is the most common unemployment benefit in New Zealand.

Eligibility:

  • Not working full-time, but actively looking for full-time (or part-time, if your ability to work is limited by a health condition, injury or disability) work e.g. preparing your CV, attending work seminars, applying for jobs
  • Be aged 18 years or over
  • Be a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident and have lived in New Zealand for at least two years at any one time since becoming a citizen or permanent resident.

Claiming

  • You should apply within 2 weeks of becoming unemployed.
  • Apply online
  • You will have to reapply every 12 months or else your benefits may stop

Circumstances

Maximum Weekly Payment

Single 18 - 19 years at home

$137.47

Single 18 - 19 years away from home

$171.84

Single 20 - 24 years

$171.84

CV Writing Services
CV Writing Services

Single, 25+ years

$206.21

Single, and receiving Domestic Purposes Benefit woman alone or Widows Benefit woman alone, before 15 July 2013

$214.79

Married, civil union or de facto couple (with or without children)

$343.68

Sole parent

$295.37

Hospital rate

$42.64

Youth Payment

The youth payment is a payment designed to support 16-17 year olds who cannot get financial support from their parents, or guardians.

Eligibility:

To be eligible for Youth Payment you must be:

  • Aged 16 or 17
  • Have no dependent children
  • Be a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident.
  • Be in, or available for, full time education, training or work-based learning leading towards an NCEA level 2 qualification, or an equivalent or higher qualification
  • Work with a Youth Service provider who will help you manage your money
  • Attend a budgeting course.

Claiming


Circumstances

Maximum Weekly Payment

Single, 16 or 17 years

$171.84

Married, civil union or de facto couple (without children)

$343.68

Hospital rate

$42.64

Youth Parent Payment

The Youth Parent Payment is designed to help support young people who have children and includes a childcare payment.

Eligibility:

To be eligible for Youth Parent Payment you must be:

  • Aged 16-17 (or 16-18 if you are have dependent children and have no partner)
  • A New Zealand citizen or permanent resident
  • Unable to get financial support from your parents or anyone else
  • Be in, or available for, full time education, training or work-based learning leading towards an NCEA level 2 qualification, or an equivalent or higher qualification
  • Be in a teen parent unit if your child is one year old, or from six months old if there is a place available for you
  • Work with a Youth Service provider who will help you manage your money
  • Attend a budgeting course
  • Attend a parenting course to develop your parenting skills
  • Enrol your child (or children) at a medical centre or with a doctor
  • Register your children under five with a WellChild, like Plunket, and make sure they have regular checkups with this provider
  • Have your child (or children) attend Early Childhood Education or other suitable childcare when you are in education, training or work-based learning or part-time work.

Claiming

Circumstances

Maximum Weekly Payment

Sole parent, 16 to 17 years, living with or supported by parents who earn less than the Family Tax Credit threshold

$137.47

Married, civil union or de facto couple (with children)

$343.68

Sole parent

CV Writing Services
CV Writing Services

$295.37

Hospital rate

$42.64

Sole Parent Support

Sole parent support is designed to help single parents over the age of 18 with children under the age of 14.

Eligibility

To be eligible for Sole Parent Support you must:

  • Have lost the support of your partner or do not have a partner and
  • Are not in a relationship with the other parent, and
  • Have dependent children who are under 14, and
  • Are over 18
  • If your youngest child is aged under 5 years you must take practical steps to getting ready for starting work e.g. preparing your CV, attending work-related training.
  • Once your youngest child turns 5 years of age you must actively look for part-time work and accept any offers of part-time work.
  • Once your youngest child turns 14 years of age you must actively look for, and accept any offers of, full-time work.
  • If you have an additional child while you receive this benefit, then as soon as that child turns one you will be expected to:
  • Actively prepare for work (if your next youngest child is aged under 5), or
  • Actively look for part-time work (if your next youngest child is aged 5 – 13), or
  • Actively look for full-time work (if your next youngest child is aged 14 or older).

Claiming

Circumstances

Maximum Weekly Payment

Sole parent

$295.37

Hospital rate

$42.64

As you can see, New Zealand has a generous benefits system in place. Thankfully, the system is not that complicated. Although you will have to navigate through the usual bureaucracy, once the government has determined your eligibility, the process is easy enough.