ARE you struggling financially even when you work hard to live within your means? It may be worthwhile finding out if you are eligible for assistance from Work and Income.

“It can be hard to know what you might be eligible for,” says Donna Cowdery, manager of Citizens Advice Bureau Whakatane “but if you don’t try to find out, you might be missing out on financial assistance that could really help.

“It could be the difference between being able to send your kids to school with healthy lunches or not being able to. You may be eligible to get some forms of financial assistance even if you are working, if your income is below the threshold.”

Work and Income’s online calculator is a great way to get an idea of what types of financial assistance you might be eligible for. This is accessible on their website www.workandincome.govt.nz and is simple to use.

If you need help with this or don’t have access to the internet, you can always contact your
local CAB who can assist with your query.

“A client who had recently lost her husband was unsure whether she was receiving all of her entitlements. We worked through the online IRD calculator with her and provided a printout of all the benefits she may be eligible for.

“This client was then able to progress forward and make an appointment with Work and Income.”

Donna further explains: “Some of our clients can find meetings with Work and Income confusing and stressful. In such cases, we are able to talk them through the relevant information or refer them to Work and Income advocates who can provide support at the meetings.”

If you have funds in Kiwisaver, you may be eligible for an early withdrawal if you’re facing significant financial hardship.

This includes being unable to meet your minimum living expenses. It also includes circumstances like modifying your home to meet the needs of a dependent family member with a disability.

If this applies to you, the first step is to contact your Kiwisaver provider and talk to them about your circumstances and the withdrawal process.

If you have difficulty paying a fine or infringement, call 0800 4 FINES to talk to the court about your options, they may be able to extend the due date or offer you a payment plan otherwise known as a time to pay arrangement. The court decides whether to give you these options.

Not sure? Ask us at the Citizens Advice Bureau. We are located at 21, Boon Street, Whakatane. Hours are Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 3.30pm. Call us on on 07 308 5609 or toll free 0800 367 222, or send an email: whakatane@cab.org.nz.

There is also information about benefits and other financial assistance on our website www.cab.org.nz

by Citizens Advice Bureau