If you receive New Zealand Superannuation and travel overseas, you need to let Senior Services know.
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In October last year, a member spent 31 weeks in the UK caring for a grandchild. He returned to a letter from the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) asking for his arrival date as his New Zealand Superannuation payments would be reviewed. When MSD received this date, it told him he had been "overpaid" by $7993 because of the length of time he had spent out of New Zealand. This would then be deducted from his NZ Super payments at $20 a week until paid off.
You’re entitled to receive NZ Super payments for the first 26 weeks of any absence from the country as long as you return within 30 weeks. If you come back after 30 weeks, you will not be entitled to NZ Superannuation from the day after leaving New Zealand.
Our member believes this penalty is unfair as he was only away one week outside the 30-week limit, and he has applied for a Review of Decision hearing with the ministry.
If you plan to be away for less than 26 weeks, you must notify Senior Services (part of the MSD) of your travel plans. You can either phone Senior Services or email your travel plans to firstname.lastname@example.org. You will only be asked to provide your boarding pass or tickets if you are expecting to be out of New Zealand for longer than 26 weeks.
If you are planning to leave New Zealand permanently or to travel for longer than 26 weeks, you must contact Senior Services before you go so that it can advise you of your options. If you don't contact Senior Services before you leave you could end up losing your NZ Super. Work and Income, also part of the MSD, is notified by the New Zealand Customs Service if someone receiving NZ Super leaves the country.
Unforeseen events such as a medical emergency or an ash-cloud may mean you need to stay longer than the 30-week limit. What you need to do if this happens is contact Work and Income – it may be able to extend your cut-off date.
If you are cut off, your payments can be reinstated on your return. Go into your Work and Income office with your passport and tickets or a travel itinerary showing the date you arrived back in the country. Your NZ Super payments can be started up again from this date.