From the Department of Work and Income
The Department of Work and Income (DWI) usually consider young people under the age of 18 - and their own child - to be the financial responsibility of their parents. However, in certain circumstances, you may be able to get a benefit.
Age 16 - 17 and pregnant?
If your parents cannot or will not support you, you may be eligible for Independent Youth Benefit (IYB) during your pregnancy. To qualify you must:
- be looking for work, in training or in school or can't work because you are sick, injured, pregnant or have a disability
- have no dependent children
- have lived in New Zealand for two years or more.
DWI are likely to stringently check why your parents can not or will not support you financially.
DWI usually only consider certain cases where:
- there is a serious breakdown in your relationship with your family and health and safety issues, past abuse, or going home would put you at risk
- your parents are absent (e.g. in prison or overseas)
- you have been orphaned
- you were living with a partner and have now separated
- any other good reason such as your parents have moved because of employment, or you have been advised by a professional (e.g. your GP) to live away from home, or you can not stay at home after Police tell you that your safety is at risk from people in your community.
DWI do not grant IYB if:
- your parents can no longer afford to keep you
- the family home is too small
- you are a student and can not get student allowance because your parent's income is high, or you've failed your studies.
DWI will interview you and talk to your parents to see if they can, in fact, financially support you.
If there is family breakdown, DWI will ask the Specialist Education Services (SES) psychologist in the Ministry of Education to assess your situation, unless Child, Youth and Family or the Police are already involved. This can mean talking to your parents, other family members and professionals (e.g. school counsellors). SES will also see if changes can be made at home to enable you to go back. The SES may provide counselling to help with this. The SES report is confidential to DWI. You can ask to see a copy, but you can only see the parts with information about yourself. Your parents can not see information about you or vice versa.
18 or older and pregnant?
16 - 17 and already had your baby?
Once your baby is born, you can claim the Emergency Maintenance Allowance (EMA).
This is an emergency benefit for 16 and 17 year old sole parents with one or more dependent children who do not qualify for the Domestic Purposes Benefit (DPB). It can be paid when:
- you live at home with your own parents and they can not financially support you or
- you live away from home and it is unreasonable to expect you to live with or be supported by your own parents.
Department of Work and Income will first consider any other support that may be available to you, including your parent's ability to support you. This means that your parents may be means-tested. DWI will also look at your level of hardship.
If you receive EMA, you will have to attend a meeting once a year to talk about plans for working towards employment, or take part in work to prepare for a job. You can not get EMA in the first eight weeks after your baby is born if you are also getting parental tax credit from the Inland Revenue during this period. However, if you have been legally married and:
- are living apart from your partner
- are divorced
- have a partner who has been imprisoned or released from prison to a rehabilitation centre, you may be able to apply for the Domestic Purposes Benefit (sole parent).
You must apply for child support and meet any work-related obligations, such as training or other activities that will improve your chance of finding a job.
Additional help from DWI
Family Tax Credit is a weekly amount for each child and paid on top of your benefit.
- Accommodation Supplement helps with rent or mortgage costs.
- Community Services Card helps reduce health care costs.
- Disability Allowance helps with any direct costs associated with a long term health issue.
- Child disability allowance if your baby has a disability or health need.
- Childcare subsidy helps with child care costs if you are working, or studying.
- A Special Needs Grant of up to $200 is available for bedding.
- Several categories of Advance Payments of Benefit are available including up to $200 for furniture, up to $200 for beds, up to $200 for car seats and up to $400 for clothing for a single or married person with children.
If you are age 16 or older and are in paid employment, you may be eligible for the Working For Families Tax Credits package from IRD. There are four parts to the assistance.
Family tax credit is a payment for each dependent child living with you. How much you get depends on the age of your child and your family income.
Minimum family tax credit is an extra payment resulting from reducing the tax you are liable for if your income is low to bring your family income up - at least one parent must be in paid work.
In-work tax credit is a payment for families who work a minimum of hours each week for a salary or wage. You also may be eligible if you are coming off an income-tested benefit to start work.
Parental tax credit is help for the first 56 days after your baby is born. It can be paid either fortnightly or as a lump sum. The maximum paid is $1,200 - how much you get depends on your income. Parental Tax Credit is not paid if you get a benefit from DWI for the eight weeks after your baby is born or you are on paid parental leave.
Check with the IRD for more information. Call: 0800 227 773.
Whatever your age, you should apply for child support from your baby's father if you are not together. This will happen automatically if you get a main benefit from DWI and have identified the parent liable for child support.
If your baby's father is under 18 years old, they must still pay child support -- there is no minimum age limit for paying parents. If the father does not make at least a minimum payment, he will build up a child support debt which will incur compound penalty charges if not cleared. He cannot 'defer' child support until he starts work.
- Child mental health
- Healthcare costs - what you pay
- Healthcare costs - assistance available
- Childcare subsidy
- Leaving Home
- Oscar subsidy
- Citizen's advice bureau for contact details of any beneficiary advocacy services in your locality
- Department of Work and Income, or call 0800 559 009 -- for information on benefits and how to apply for them.
- Working for Families package
- Inland revenue Department