Money

Understanding New Zealand's superannuation system

Learn what you are entitled to and how to get it.

It’s nice to know that once we hit 65, we can get additional income in the form of New Zealand Superannuation – after all, it’s one of the reasons why we’ve paid our taxes for all these years.

If you’re not that far off 65, you may be wondering about how much you’ll get, and possibly finding the rules and regulations surrounding New Zealand Super a little daunting.

Here’s a basic guide to what it’s all about.

• To get New Zealand Super, you have to be 65 or over and a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident.

• You must have lived in New Zealand for at least 10 years since you turned 20. Five of those years must be since you turned 50.

• You don’t have to be retired from work – you can still get NZ Super if you work.

• How much you get will depend on your current circumstances, such as whether you are single, married or in a relationship. If you are single, your living situation – for example, whether you live alone or with dependent children – is taken into consideration. If you’re married or in a relationship, whether your partner is included in your payments makes a difference to what you get. Overseas benefits or pensions can also affect the amount you are paid.

• If you are single and living alone, the most you can get before tax is $886.86 per fortnight. If you have no other income, you’ll have the tax code M and end up with $769.52 after tax.

• If you’re single but sharing accommodation, that payment drops to $815.06 per fortnight before tax or $710.32 if your tax rate is M.

• Couples who are married, in a de facto relationship or civil union (where both partners qualify for superannuation) can get $671.48 each per fortnight before tax ($591.94 each after tax if you have no other income).

• If you are still working full or part-time, you can still get superannuation but this may affect the amount of income tax you have to pay.

• If your spouse or partner doesn’t qualify for their own superannuation, you can choose to include them in your payments so you will both get paid. In this case, you can each get $636.20 before tax or $562.60 after tax if you have no other income.

• If you choose to do this, any other income either of you earn could affect how much you get. If your spouse is included, you can earn up to $100 a week (before tax) before your super is affected. If you earn over $100 (before tax), every dollar of income earned after that is reduced by 70 cents.

• It is not always to your advantage financially to include your partner – if you have a combined annual income of $27,519.89 (not including NZ Super), you’ll earn less in super than you would if your partner wasn’t included.

• Additional income taken into consideration includes wages, investments, rental income, interest from bank accounts, dividends from shares and income from trusts, as well as overseas benefits or pensions.

For more information
Confused? Call 0800 559 009 to talk to someone about your situation. Otherwise, email onlinesupport@workandincome.govt.nz or visit the website workandincome.govt.nz/online-services/superannuation.