Ever wondered how NZ Super payments work? Canstar breaks down all you need to know in our guide to superannuation.

New Zealand Superannuation (NZ Super) is the government pension paid to Kiwis over the age of 65. Any eligible New Zealander receives NZ Super regardless of how much they earn through paid work, savings and investments, what other assets they own or what taxes they have paid. 

Who can get NZ Super?

Superannuation (or NZ Super) is a fortnightly payment for Kiwis who are over 65 and meet the following criteria:

  • NZ citizen / permanent resident / or hold a residence class visa
  • Are ordinarily a resident in NZ, the Cook Islands, Niue or Tokelau
  • Have lived in NZ for at least ten years since turning 20. (Must include five years since turning 50)

How much will I receive?

How much you receive depends on your current circumstances, such as:

  • Whether you are single, married or in a relationship
  • Your living situation if you are single (e.g. live alone, live with dependent children, share accommodation with others)
  • Any overseas benefit or pension you or your partner (if you have one) may receive
  • Payments from accident insurance or ACC may also affect your pension

Whether you’re single or living as a couple, it doesn’t matter how much income you have. It won’t affect your NZ Super payments, unless you get an overseas pension.

The current superannuation rates (after tax) are:

  • Individual: $496.37 per week or $25,811.24 per annum
  • Couple (assuming both qualify): $763.64 per week or $39,709.28 per annum

Is NZ Super taxed?

Yes, the pension is taxed as income in the normal way under the PAYE system.

→Related article: What is PAYE Tax?

How is the rate of NZ Super set?

NZ Super payments are set by the government each year. The rates are reviewed and can be changed to take into account any increases in the cost of living (inflation) and average wages. The after-tax NZ Super rate for couples (who both qualify) is based on 66% of the ‘average ordinary time wage’ after tax. For single people, the after-tax NZ superannuation rate is around 40% of that average wage.

When can you apply?

If you’re eligible you can apply for NZ Super three months before turning 65. There’s a form on the Work and Income website, or Work and Income can be reached on 0800 552 002.

How do you get a SuperGold Card?

The SuperGold Card is for people aged 65 years and older (it doesn’t expire). It gives you instant discounts and special offers at thousands of businesses across New Zealand, and in Australia.

A SuperGold Card is sent to you automatically once you are granted New Zealand Superannuation.

What about my KiwiSaver savings?

Once you hit retirement age, you are eligible to withdraw savings from KiwiSaver. It’s a common misconception that you have to withdraw all your KiwiSaver money when you turn 65. Many providers allow you to keep your KiwiSaver account open and to make regular smaller withdrawals.

The beauty of still being in KiwiSaver over the age of 65 is that your investments can carry on working for you. To make the most of your KiwiSaver savings, double check that you are enrolled in the right type of KiwiSaver fund that suits your needs.

This could mean moving out of riskier investments into ones that offer more reliable returns. Every stage of life comes with some great experiential gifts – including retirement. Just ensure that you plan ahead to make the most of it.

→Related article: Can I Claim Super and Still Work?

Compare KiwiSaver providers for free with Canstar!

Does KiwiSaver affect my eligibility for NZ Super?

While NZ Super may provide for basic standards of living in retirement, it may not be enough for the kind of retirement lifestyle some Kiwis want. Having a KiwiSaver account doesn’t affect your eligibility for NZ Super, or reduce the amount of NZ Super you’re entitled to. Instead, KiwiSaver investments are designed to complement NZ Super payments, to provide you with a better standard of living in your retirement. 

About the author of this page

This report was written by Canstar Content Producer, Caitlin Bingham. Caitlin is an experienced writer whose passion for creativity led her to study communication and journalism. She began her career freelancing as a content writer, before joining the Canstar team.

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