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Disability Allowance – a guide

Work and Income covers certain types of medical and ongoing costs associated with a disability. Find out how the Disability Allowance works here.

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Work and Income’s Disability Allowance allows you to claim for certain types of medical and ongoing costs associated with a disability. You can receive a Disability Allowance if you’re on the main benefit or if you’re working, as long as you meet Work and Income’s eligibility criteria.

Keep reading to find out if you’re eligible, types of costs that can be claimed and how to apply.

What is the Disability Allowance?

The Disability Allowance is a benefit that you can apply for through Work and Income. It provides a weekly payment to assist with certain types of medical costs, such as unsubsidised doctor, specialist or hospital visits, prescriptions and counselling, as well as ongoing costs, like travel, clothing, heating and medical alarms.

The main thing to know about the Disability Allowance is that it’s designed to help with extra costs you incur in association with your disability. It’s not intended to replace health insurance or cover all the costs of your healthcare.

Am I eligible?

To qualify for the Disability Allowance there are certain criteria that need to be fulfilled before Work and Income approves your application. These include:

  • a disability likely to last 6 months or more
  • regular and ongoing costs because of your disability
  • a doctor’s written confirmation of your disability
  • proof of medical costs, such as receipts
  • proof that you can’t meet your medical costs
  • earning less than the weekly income limit
  • being a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident.

If you’re not sure you’re eligible to apply for the Disability Allowance, call Work and Income on 0800 559 009 to make an appointment to discuss your situation.

How much can I get?

If approved for a Disability Allowance, the maximum amount you can currently receive is $65.36 per week, which adds up to over $3,000 annually.

The allowance is tax free and is paid weekly into your bank account along with your main benefit, if you’re receiving one. How much allowance you get depends on the amount of the extra costs associated with your disability.

What costs does it cover?

The Disability Allowance can cover a number of costs, as long as the cost is related to your disability, and your doctor confirms this with Work and Income.

The type of costs that qualify for cover include:

  • non-subsidised doctor, specialist and hospital fees
  • pharmacy prescription charges
  • travel costs to and from a doctor, specialist, hospital or counsellor
  • home heating costs for summer and winter
  • gardening, lawns and window cleaning
  • gym and swimming pool fees
  • clothes and shoes
  • special foods
  • medical alarm rental and monitoring costs.

Visit Work and Income’s comprehensive list of what’s covered by the Disability Allowance.

Each year your Disability Allowance is reviewed to make sure you’re getting the right amount of assistance. The best way to be prepared is to keep all your medical receipts together so you can add in any new costs when the review comes around.

How to apply

New applicants can apply for the Disability Allowance online through MyMSD, Work and Income’s self-service portal. You’ll need to register if you haven’t used the portal before.

You can also download and complete an Extra Help form, then call Work and Income on 0800 559 009 to make an appointment.

When applying for the Disability Allowance you’ll need to supply medical supporting paperwork for your application to be processed. This includes a Disability Certificate form from your doctor specifying your condition and the extra costs related to it.

You’ll also need to provide proof of these costs, such as receipts of what you’ve spent or a summary of costs from your doctor or pharmacy.

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