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When we live with a debilitating chronic illness like ME/CFS, we may be unable to work to generate income for ourselves and our families. Depending on our family situation, other income and assets, there may be some income support available from Work and Income, a department of the Ministry of Social Development (MSD).  


We know it can be difficult working through the information and the application steps. The advocates in our Work and Income Service provide confidential support to help you to access any assistance that you are eligible for from Work and Income.  


Our Work and Income Advocacy Service is normally delivered through email, but it depends what suits you best - text, phone call, zoom call or home visits are also an option.  


The support may include: 

  • Helping to determine your eligibility for the different financial benefits and allowances. 

  • Assisting in filling out paperwork and applications. 

  • With your permission, acting on your behalf as your agent.  

  • Working with your GP to ensure any required medical certificates reflect the severity and impacts of your illness. 

  • Supporting you through issues with Work and Income.  

  • Advocating on your behalf with Work and Income.  


To refer yourself to the Work and Income Service, sign up as a member and email us to tell us what help would be beneficial, and one of our team will be in touch. 

We encourage people to use the ‘Check what you might get’ tool from MSD to find out what you might be eligible for. This takes around five minutes to complete.


The tool provides information about all the types of financial assistance you may qualify for and why, as well as what assistance you are unlikely to qualify for and why.

The Community Services Card can help you with the costs of health care and public transport. This means you could pay less on some health services, prescriptions and fares for public transport. You don’t have to be on a benefit to qualify for the card, but it is income tested.


Work and Income will normally send the card to you if you are eligible. If they have not, you can apply for it online.  

Benefits and Allowances

Work and Income have a range of benefits and allowances which have their own eligibility criteria and you will need to submit various supporting information with your application.


Some of the benefits that may be available to you include:

Supported Living Payment (SLP)

Support Living Payment (SLP) is a weekly payment for people who are severely restricted in their ability to work due to a health condition. This requires a medical certificate from your GP to confirm you cannot regularly work more than 15 hours per week for the next 2 years.

Jobseeker Support

Jobseeker Support is a temporary benefit available when a health condition is affecting your ability to work fulltime.

Jobseeker Support with Medical Deferral

Jobseeker Support with Medical Deferral is available when a health practitioner has confirmed you cannot work fulltime due to a health condition.

Disability Allowance

Disability Allowance can cover regular ongoing costs related to a medical or health need up to $75 per week. It is income tested. This allowance is also available for the Non-Beneficiary if all eligibility criteria are met.


Here are some of the things that you may be able to get your GP to confirm that you need covered by the Disability Allowance:

  • Doctor's fees.

  • Prescription fees.

  • Travel to your doctor, specialist, hospital or counsellor.

  • Heating.

  • Medical alarm rental and monitoring.

  • Hearing aid batteries.

  • Lawn mowing.

  • Gardening.

  • Special clothing requirements e.g. compression stockings.

  • Exterior window cleaning.

  • Special foods e.g. gluten free foods.

  • Other treatments, such as:

    • Chiropractor

    • Podiatry

    • Physiotherapy/Gym fees.

    • Herbal supplements (

    • Unfunded prescription medications.


Accommodation Supplement

Accommodation Supplement provides weekly assistance towards your rent, board or mortgage payments. It is income and asset tested. This is also available for the Non-Beneficiary if all eligibility criteria are met.

Temporary Additional Support (TAS)

Temporary Additional Support (TAS) is a weekly payment to help with essential daily living costs when you don’t have enough money for these. It can be paid for up to 13 weeks and would need to be re-applied for after that. It is available for Non-Beneficiaries if they meet the income and asset tests, and the other criteria.

Special Needs Grant

Special Needs Grant may cover one-off essential costs when you don’t have the funds. You do not need to pay this back. It is asset and income tested, and can be used for costs such as food, some dental treatment, health travel costs, medical equipment.

Recoverable Assistance Grant

Recoverable Assistance Grant may cover essential costs not covered by the Special Needs Grant. This is generally paid direct to the supplier on your behalf. Repayments are automatically deducted from your weekly payments, at a rate agreed on with the case manager processing the payment. Costs that may be covered include clothing, car repairs, glasses, hearing aids.

Supported Living Payment for Carers

Supported Living Payment for Carers is a weekly payment if you are caring fulltime for a person would otherwise need to receive hospital or residential-level care.

Child Care Subsidy

Child Care Subsidy assists towards pre-school childcare costs and may be useful to consider accessing if you care for children while living with chronic illness, to ensure that you have opportunities to rest.

Applying for Support

Use the MyMSD website to submit your applications to Work and Income and to give notice of any changes.


  1. Ensure you have your MSD Client Number. This will be on your Community Services Card, Super Gold Card, or letters from MSD.  If you don’t have a client number yet, use the online form to Request a client number.

  2. To register for a MyMSD account, go to

  3. To apply for financial assistance from Work and Income, visit the MyMSD website and click the Apply button.


Remember that you can start an online application and then save it. Just come back within 20 days to complete.


Once you have submitted your application, Work and Income will ask you to submit information such as evidence of costs, medical certificates, and proof of bank account and IRD number. You will normally have 20 working days to provide this.


If you disagree with a decision, you will have 90 days to request a review. Please get in touch with our team to assist you with the review of the decision.

Emailing Work and Income

People with ME/CFS often have difficulty communicating on the phone and ​Work and Income offers communication by email for this situation, under their Deaf Services.  ​


When communicating by email, compose the email as follows:​


  1. Set the To address to   ​

  2. In the Subject bar type your Full Name and Client Number.  ​

  3. Include the following information in your email:​


  • At the start, include your full name, client number, date of birth and current address, as identification. ​

  • State that email contact is preferred due to Chronic Illness, limitations and difficulty talking on a phone. ​
    e.g. “I have the chronic illness ME/CFS and this impacts my cognitive abilities. I find talking and responding to questions on the phone very difficult. My preferred method of communication is by email.”​


  • State what you want to know or what you need to contact Work and Income about.

Appoint an Agent

You can choose to have someone else act on your behalf in some or all of your dealings with Work and Income. This person is called an agent, and they volunteer their time. ​


Agent for a single event:​

You can verbally ask to have a support person who is with you (on a phone call or at a meeting), to act on your behalf. This verbal agreement will last just for that meeting. ​


When you want someone to act on your behalf for longer:​

Select the agent with care. It could be a friend or family member, MECFS Canterbury, or a benefit advisory service. ​


You can still talk to MSD and act for yourself when you are able to.​


Indicate on the ‘Appointment of Agent’ form the scope of tasks that the agent can help with. ​

This can range from making enquiries on your behalf, signing forms, right through to all interactions.​


(Note: We have a simplified form if you wish to appoint us as an agent.)

More Information

Benefit info from Work and Income​ ​


MSD Policies​ ​


MECFS Canterbury​

Contact our Work and Income Advocacy team on:   |  P: 03-365 5887  |  M: 020 4027 0176 ​


Benefit Advisory Services

If you live outside our region, contact your local ME/CFS support organisation, or search to find your local benefit advisory service. ​


Rare Disorders NZ Work and Income information​  

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