What is the Accommodation Supplement?
The Accommodation Supplement is a weekly payment that helps more than half a million New Zealanders with the costs of their rent, board or home-ownership.
Although this supplement supports the living standards of people on low incomes, you don’t have to be on a benefit to get this payment. So, let’s look at the eligibility criteria and application process for the Accommodation Supplement.
Who can receive the Accommodation Supplement?
Your eligibility depends on a few different factors and you may qualify for the Accommodation Supplement if you:
- Have accommodation costs
- Are over 16-years-old
- Are a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident
- Usually live here and mean to stay in New Zealand
- Aren’t paying rent for a social housing property
The supplement is also means-tested and the government takes into account:
- How much you and your spouse or partner earn
- What assets and money you both have
How can you check if you’re eligible for the Accommodation Supplement?
To find out whether you might qualify for this supplement (and any other government assistance), the Ministry of Social Development offers a ‘Check What You Might Get’ online guide.
Allow about five minutes to complete the questionnaire, keeping in mind that the more information you provide, the more accurate the results will be.
If you have a partner, it’s recommended that you both complete the guide, as it may yield different results for each of you.
How much Accommodation Supplement will you receive?
If you do qualify for the Accommodation Supplement, then the amount you’ll get is calculated according to:
- Your income and assets
- Your accommodation costs
- Your family circumstances
- The area you live in (because Work and Income recognises that housing costs vary across the country)
The ‘Check What You Might Get’ guide is an easy way to estimate your payment, though you’ll need to apply for the Accommodation Supplement to firm up this figure.
How do you apply for the Accommodation Supplement?
There are two different application processes, depending on whether or not you’re receiving financial assistance from the government already.
If you aren’t getting any payments from Work and Income or you’re only receiving child care payments, then it’s a two-step process:
- First, you need to apply online, using MyMSD to complete the application form. The form will tell you what supporting documents you need to provide, and if you're unable to apply online, you can print off this Extra Help Application form and complete it by hand.
- Next, you need to speak with Work and Income. Book an appointment via MyMSD or call 0800 559 009 and say ‘apply’ at the prompt. This appointment is a chance for you to ask any questions and find out what you need to do next.
If you’re already receiving payments from Work and Income (e.g. a benefit or Disability Allowance), then you need to:
- Complete the Accommodation Supplement application form.
- Then return it to a Work and Income service centre near you, along with proof of your costs.
If you’re eligible for the Accommodation Supplement, then Work and Income will grant the assistance from the date you first contact them, provided you fill out the application form within 20 working days of that date.
What should you do if there’s a change in your circumstances?
It’s important that you keep Work and Income up-to-date with your situation.
Make sure your contact details and bank account details are correct, and if you’re getting the Accommodation Supplement and there’s a change to your accommodation costs, you need to notify Work and Income straightaway.
All in all, the Accommodation Supplement is another way that the government supports families and helps parents ensure a home, sweet, home for their children. This supplement has its critics, but if you think you’re eligible, it’s definitely worth applying.
Work and Income
Additional Financial Assistance
When it comes to other life expenses, Work and Family can help some New Zealanders with food costs, school-related expenses (i.e. uniforms, stationery, fees and/or activities), urgent bills and other unexpected costs. Click the links above to see if you might qualify for financial support.
This child care article was last reviewed or updated on Monday, 29 March 2021
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