Sole parent benefit / solo parent benefits 2020

Sole parent benefit / solo parent benefits 2020

By Babysits, 6 min read

Need to know about sole parent benefit? Find the answers to all of your questions: what it is, who can get it, how to apply, and more. Updated for 2020.

What is sole parent benefit

Sole parent benefit is support received from the New Zealand government in the form of weekly payments. Solo parent benefits are set up to help single parents find part-time employment or prepare for future employment opportunities.

This includes support financially, as mentioned above, and can also include support in the form of education and training.

Which goal for support applies depends on the situation of the parent: * If the youngest child is under 3 years old, the benefit is designed to help prepare for future employment * If the youngest child is 3 or older, the benefit is designed to help single parents find part-time work.

Who can get sole parent support?

Sole parent benefits apply to people meeting the following criteria:

  • 20 years old or older
  • Are a single parent or caregiver with one or more children under the age of 14
  • Single (i.e. not in a relationship)
  • Lacking adequate financial support
  • New Zealand citizens or permanent residents, who have resided for at least 2 years since becoming a citizen or permanent resident and normally reside in New Zealand.

Parents or caregivers who meet all of the above criteria apply for sole parent support.

Some important notes: * In the case of separated parents or other such circumstances, only one parent or caregiver can receive sole parent benefit. * Sharing care of your child can impact the amount of support you will receive. * Those who miss out on specific criteria, (particularly regarding the length of residency in NZ), may contact the NZ government for potential exceptions.

What may disqualify you from sole parent benefits

The following may disqualify you from sole parent benefits, however, may qualify you for other benefits from the NZ government:

  • Your youngest child is 14 or older. In this case, you may qualify for Jobseeker support. *if your child turns 14 while you are receiving sole parental benefits, this will be automatically transferred over to jobseeker support, beginning on the first day of the expiry of sole parent support (unless the parent doesn’t qualify for Jobseeker support).
  • You are a single parent or caregiver under 19 years of age. In this case, you can receive support from Youth services such as the young parent payment (applies to both parents and caregivers who have at least one child as a dependent).

If you’re not sure whether you qualify, you can try this free tool from the NZ government to check for potential benefits: (https://check.msd.govt.nz/) .

What do you get for sole parent benefits

The weekly payment that you receive will depend on several factors, such as your situation and how much you earn.

The weekly payment is impacted as follows depending on your gross (pre-tax) income per week:

Own weekly income (gross) Deductions from net benefit payment Explanation
less than $115 $0 Income under $115 per week (gross) will not impact sole parent benefit payments
$125 $3 For income between $115 - $215 per week, the benefit payments will be reduced by $0.30 for each extra $1 earned. (ex: $116 income would mean a 30 cent deduction from the net benefit payment).
$215 $30 For income above $215 per week, the benefit payments will be reduced by $0.70 for each extra $1 earned. (ex: $216 income would mean a $30.70 deduction from the net benefit payment, $30 from the income between $115 and $215 plus a 70 cent deduction for the extra dollar above $215).
$709 Complete deduction - sole parent support no longer applicable. For income above $709 per week pre tax, you won’t qualify for Sole Parent Support.

How to apply for sole parent support

As with other benefits, you can apply for sole parent support via MyMSD using an online application procedure. If you don’t have MyMSD or are having trouble you can also contact the Ministry of Social Development here.

If there is any extra information they need, they will call or otherwise get in touch with you.

If/when the application for sole parent benefit has been approved the MSD will contact you to let you know when payments will begin, if you are going to receive a family tax credit, and to send you a community services card (which helps make prescriptions and doctors visits more affordable).

Reapplication and changes

If you are receiving support, you need to update the MSD with any changes that may impact the amount of benefit you receive.

Generally you would have to reapply for sole parent support every 12 months. As of October 21st, 2020, there is an exemption and no necessity to reapply. To double check when you may need to reapply next, get in touch directly with the MSD.


Hopefully this helps provide enough information on sole parent benefit. For more detailed information and advice, we highly suggest to check out the MSD’s resources (and get in touch with them about specific questions you may have.)

If you are in need of childcare as a single parent, we hope we can help. One way that may be helpful is connecting with other parents via our parents-help-parents search. To learn more about parents-help-parents, read our article here.