Government helps superannuitants and beneficiaries stuck overseas

  • Hon Carmel Sepuloni
  • Hon Tracey Martin
Seniors Social Development

Over two and a half thousand New Zealanders stranded overseas who receive Superannuation, Veteran’s Pension or a main benefit, will keep being paid with a temporary relaxation in policy, Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni and Minister for Seniors Tracey Martin announced today.

Changes will be introduced from 20 April 2020 and be in place for six months.

Carmel Sepuloni said these temporary changes will give relief to those senior New Zealanders and beneficiaries trying to return home but are unable to due to the strict global travel restrictions and border closures in place to fight COVID-19.

“Payments from MSD generally stop when a person leaves the country. However from Monday, policy is to pay or resume payments on hold or stopped from the date that they had expected to return to New Zealand in circumstances where their return home was impeded by COVID-19 restrictions.”

Seniors Minister Tracey Martin said the changes will help all those superannuitants who have been caught by the shutdown in international travel.

“In the current situation, where it’s very difficult for people to return home, it makes sense to relax these rules and provide support,” she said.

Carmel Sepuloni adds that the MSD has been proactive in responding to impacts of COVID-19 by applying new ways of working to support more New Zealanders than ever before.

“But we are also aware we have superannuitants and beneficiaries that require flexibility and commitment to their well-being during this unprecedented time.”

MFAT is currently providing its largest ever consular assistance programme to help New Zealanders return home. Since 14 March, when the Government advised New Zealanders to avoid non-essential travel overseas around 80,000 New Zealand citizens and permanent residents returned to New Zealand. However many remain stranded offshore.   

Currently, there are 764 superannuitants and 1,871 beneficiaries overseas with suspended payments.