Understanding NZ Super


New Zealand residents are entitled to receive NZ Super (the old age pension) if they satisfy all of the following conditions. They must:

  • have reached State pension age (currently age 65);
  • be a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident;
  • live in New Zealand;
  • have lived in New Zealand for at least 10 years since age 20;
  • have lived in New Zealand for at least 5 years since age 50.

Residence in a country with which New Zealand has reciprocal social security arrangements (like Australia and the UK) counts as residence in New Zealand.


The benefit is linked directly to the national average wage and is reviewed each year (1 April) against changes in wages. The target level for a married couple is referred to as “65 at 65” i.e. a net 65% of the net national average wage from age 65. The current level is 66% of the net national average wage.


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

Income test

There are no income or asset tests applied to NZ Super. However, if one partner of a couple qualifies and the other does not, both may receive the benefit, but an income test applies in respect of the benefit paid to the partner that does not qualify in their own right.


The pension when payable is not backdated. Also, an application can only be made when you are within 2 months of being eligible. Therefore, an eligible person should apply (make an appointment) in the 2 months before turning 65.


There are no specific social security contributions or “working life period” based requirements. The full pension is payable if the “eligibility” conditions are satisfied. The pension is funded out of general taxation.

Private superannuation

The payment of the NZ Super benefit does not affect the private superannuation and savings of an individual. This includes benefits payable under KiwiSaver.

However, entitlements to an overseas social security pension (like the UK’s Basic State Pension) but not work-related, employer-provided pensions, reduce the New Zealand pension by the equivalent amount.

New Zealand Superannuation rates – from 1 April 2019


Before tax (gross)

Post-tax (net) 


a year

fortnightly each

a year

fortnightly each

Single, living alone





Single, sharing





Married couple one qualifies $18,741.84 $682.86 $16,446.04 $601.22

Married couple both qualify





Note: New Zealand Superannuation is paid fortnightly. The next change is due 1 April 2020.

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