Financial help when your child has a disability or chronic condition

Financial help when your child has a disability or chronic condition

Financial support may be available because of your child’s special needs. See the information below for an explanation of some of the types of benefits that may be available.

Key points to remember

  • different kinds of financial support may be available because of your child’s special needs
  • many of the allowances are available from Work and Income 
  • discuss your eligibility for these allowances with your health professional, social worker, or NASC (Needs Assessment Service Coordination) Service

What financial help can you get?

Financial support may be available because of your child's special needs. You can go to the Work and Income website for information and application forms. Brochures and application forms are also available from your nearest Work and Income office or you can call free on 0800 559 009 and ask to get them in the post. Information and forms may also be available from your social worker, paediatrician, child development service or early intervention team.

The following are some of the types of benefits that may be available. You might wish to discuss your eligibility for these allowances with your health professional, social worker, or NASC (Needs Assessment Service Coordination) Service.

You may find the needs assessment page on this website helpful.

Child Disability Allowance

This is a non-taxable, non-means-tested allowance for the parent or guardian of a dependent child who has a serious disability. It is paid because of the extra care that may be needed by a child who has a physical, sensory, psychiatric or intellectual disability. To receive the allowance, parents/carers need to be New Zealand residents.

You need a Child Disability Allowance application form. Your doctor (general practitioner or paediatrician) should complete the medical section which includes questions on your child's entitlement to the allowance.

For more information, including current rates, you can go to the Work and Income website or call free on 0800 559 009. The Work and Income website provides the following information:

Childcare Assistance

Work and Income may be able to provide help towards childcare costs such as early childhood education, after school care or holiday programmes.

Childcare Subsidy

This helps families to pay for their pre-school children (or under 6 if you get the Child Disability Allowance for them) to go to an approved early childhood programme, for example:

  • early childhood education and care services such as:
    • kindergartens and preschools
    • a childcare centres and creches
    • playcentres and playgroups
    • Kohanga Reo, Punanga Reo, Aoga and other programmes with a language and culture focus
  • approved home-based care

OSCAR Subsidy

The OSCAR (Out of School Care and Recreation) Subsidy is for children aged 5 to 13 years (or up to 18 years if they receive the Child Disability Allowance). It helps towards the costs of before school and after school care for up to 20 hours a week, and school holiday programmes for up to 50 hours a week.

How are the Childcare and OSCAR Subsidies paid?

Both the Childcare and OSCAR Subsidies are paid on an income-related basis (it depends on how much you and your partner earn).

If one child in a family is receiving the Child Disability Allowance or is in hospital, the requirement for both parents to be working may not apply. This means you may be eligible for Childcare Subsidy (up to 50 hours a week) and/or OSCAR Subsidy for both the child getting Child Disability Allowance and your other children.

You can get more information on the Work and Income website: 

You can also phone Work and Income free on 0800 559 009 for more information, a printed brochure and application form.

Community Services Card

The Community Services Card can help you and your family with the costs of health care. You'll pay less for some health services and prescriptions. If you have not received one, and think you should have, please phone Work and Income on 0800 999 999.

You can also visit the Work and Income website for information on:

Disability Allowance

This is an allowance in addition to the Child Disability Allowance. It reimburses people for ongoing regular extra costs associated with having a disability that is expected to last 6 months or longer. The allowance is non-taxable and income tested. The amount you are paid depends on your costs. There is a limit to how much you can claim per week.

Some costs might be:

  • visits to the doctor and prescriptions
  • additional power or heating costs
  • travel to medical services
  • Total Mobility Card
  • special foods (for the extra cost compared to normal food)
  • counselling costs

You must be caring for the child who has the disability. The Disability Allowance requires your doctor to sign an application form. You will need to send in receipts for your ongoing costs with your application, and then every year after that.

Ask your healthcare worker for a form.

You can visit the Work and Income website for:

You can also phone Work and Income free on 0800 559 009 for further information.

Mobility Parking Permit scheme

This scheme provides people with Mobility Parking Spaces. Information and application forms are available at CCS website or your local CCS branch. Call CCS free on 0800 227 200.

Other Work and Income assistance

Work and Income has a wide range of assistance available to people on a benefit or working in a variety of circumstances. If you have costs that you can’t meet on your own, contact Work and Income on 0800 559 009. They may be able to offer further help.

Your rights if you disagree with a Work and Income decision

If you don’t understand a decision Work and Income has made, talk to them about it. If you disagree with certain decisions you have the right to apply for a review. An application for review needs to be made within 3 months of the decision. You can use the forms on the Work and Income website, or write to them by letter, email or fax.  If you can’t do this within 3 months, talk to Work and Income.  If you have a good reason, your review may still be considered.

Travel and accommodation costs

Many of your costs which result from attending treatment for your child National Travel Assisistance Scheme: Ministry of Health brochurecan be reimbursed under the NTA (National Travel Assistance) Scheme. If eligible, you will receive assistance towards your travel and possibly your accommodation costs.

There is a Ministry of Health pamphlet (at right) which sets out the eligibility criteria for the Scheme and explains how to go about making a claim. You can also check the Ministry of Health website for:

For clarification of any aspects of this policy, or for information on claiming for travel and accommodation costs, please contact your hospital social worker or call the Ministry of Health’s travel assistance help line on 0800 281 222 (press 2).


Application may be made to organisations such as the New Zealand Lotteries Commission, Halberg Trust and the Variety Club for assistance for vehicle modification, sporting activities or specialised equipment. Please contact your needs assessment facilitator, health professional, social worker in the community, or ward social worker if your child is an inpatient, for information on these options.

Respite care and carer support

You may be eligible to have some relief care for a number of days each year. Usually, this is money paid to an informal carer that you choose. This is called carer support.

In some cases, where there is severe disability, there may also be access to some respite provided for your child in a facility. This is called respite care and needs to be assessed by a NASC (Needs Assessment and Service Coordination) Service. Ask your social worker for assistance or call HealthPAC, the Ministry of Health's help line on 0800 281 222 (press 2).

You may find the following page on this website helpful:

Spectacles Subsidy

Thumbnail image of a pamphletSome children with a disability may receive some help towards the cost of glasses.

If your child has a vision problem, there is a spectacles subsidy which can help with the costs of your child's:

  • eye test
  • glasses (frames and lenses)
  • eye patches
  • repairs

The subsidy is available for:

  • any of your children, aged 15 or under
  • but only if you have valid Community Services Card or your child has a current High Use Health Card

For more information about this subsidy:

Total Mobility scheme

You may be able to apply for travel assistance, in the form of a discount on taxi fares, through the Total Mobility scheme. This service is provided by local and regional councils. To find out if you qualify, speak to your social worker or contact your local or regional council. You can also call Enable free on 0800 171 981 for contact details for your local council.

Extra Assistance

Check the following page on this website to see if there's any other help you may be entitled to:

Where can I get information and forms?

Information and forms may also be available from your family doctor, needs assessment facilitator, social worker, paediatrician, or an early intervention centre.

This page last reviewed 16 December 2014.
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