What help is available?
Children born with a cleft of the lip/palate, often qualify for a range of government benefits. Some of these benefits require means testing (verification that your income does not exceed a certain amount), others do not.
Child Disability Allowance
The Child Disability Allowance is a fortnightly payment made to the main caregiver of a child or young person with a serious disability, in recognition of the extra care needed for that child.
You may get a Child Disability Allowance if:
- you are the main carer of the child (or if there is no main carer, you have care of the child for the time being); and
- you are a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident; and
- the child had been assessed as needing constant care and attention for at least 12 months because of a serious disability; and
- the child or young person is under 18 years of age.
The Child Disability Allowance is a set amount and does not depend on your income, assets or costs (i.e. it is not means tested). This allowance is paid into your bank account every two weeks and is paid separately from any other assistance you may receive.
All Child Disability Allowance applications MUST be completed by a health professional, preferably by your surgeon or somebody else from your Cleft team.
The assessor’s decision is based solely on the information you and your specialist have provided on the forms, so remember to stress the extra care required for cleft babies around feeding etc.
This allowance is subject to regular reviews, normally annually. The Department of Work and Income will send you a renewal form that will often require a medical report. These forms must be returned swiftly or payments of the allowance will be stopped until forms are received and processed. You may only get this allowance until the initial cleft repairs have been completed, unless your child has additional medical issues (such as a syndrome). https://www.workandincome.govt.nz/products/a-z-benefits/child-disability-allowance.html
If your application for a Child Disability Allowance is successful, they will only back date your allowance to the date of your application, so don’t delay in getting your application in to ensure you get all your entitlement.
The Disability Allowance is a weekly payment for people who have regular, ongoing costs because of a disability, such as visits to your nearest cleft centre for consultations/surgeries if you live out of town. You don’t need to be on a benefit to qualify for a Disability Allowance and you can apply on behalf of a child if they’re 18 or under and financially dependent on you.
You may get a Disability Allowance if you (or your child):
• have a disability that is likely to last at least six months; and
• have regular, ongoing costs because of your disability that are not fully covered by another agency; and
• are a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident; and
• normally live in New Zealand and intend to stay here.
The Disability Allowance is means tested, so you will not receive it, if the combined income of you and your partner exceeds the allowed amount.
The amount of the Disability Allowance depends on the extra costs you have because of your disability. It is usually paid straight into your bank account with your main benefit (or weekly if you don’t get any other assistance). The Disability Allowance can help pay for a number of things your doctor advises you need because of your disability. You will need to keep receipts and provide proof of any costs.
This allowance is subject to regular reviews. The Department of Work and Income will need to see proof of any costs that have increased or are new. https://www.workandincome.govt.nz/products/a-z-benefits/disability-allowance.html
Allowable costs (what can be included) can be found below:
Right to Review
If you feel that the Department of Work and Income have unfairly rejected your application for either the Child Disability Allowance or the Disability Allowance, you have the right to a review.
The Ministry of Social Development have Regional Health teams that you can appeal to. Your review will be undertaken by health professionals that sit on these teams as opposed to regular Department of Work and Income case workers who may not appreciate the extra care that our cleft kids need.
The information which is summarised here does not constitute financial or other professional advice. It does not take into account your specific circumstances and is general in nature. Whilst we have tried to ensure the accuracy and completeness of this information, Cleft NZ Inc cannot offer any undertaking, warranty or guarantee regarding how correct, complete or up to date this information is.