17 February 2022

Changes to NZ Super Entitlement on the Horizon

The not-quite retired are starting to make calculations about whether they will get New Zealand Superannuation (NZ Super) if they have spent years living overseas. People who have already reached the age of eligibility for NZ Super or are on the brink are not affected by legislation passed late last year.

But from July 2024, residency requirements for getting NZ Super will gradually increase. This is the result of the NZ Super and Retirement Income (Fair Residency) Amendment Act, which was passed by parliament in November, last year.

It started out as an attempt by the New Zealand First Party to stop immigrants from coming here in late middle age and picking up a pension. But New Zealand First was ousted in the 2020 election and the bill was picked up and refined by the National MP Andrew Bayly. It was subsequently passed with the support of all parties in parliament except the Greens.

The change comes after years of worries that NZ Super will become unaffordable for future Governments. Andrew Bayly said the new law would help in that regard, but not by much.

“I think there is a figure of $200 million over time, it depends on what time you are measuring of course. It's not massive but it is one of the building blocks to make (NZ Super) more affordable.”

The National Party has campaigned in two elections to gradually raise the age of eligibility for NZ Super to increase affordability, but Labour opposes this.

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The new law will not affect those already receiving NZ Super. They are still eligible for the pension at 65 if they have lived in New Zealand for at least 10 years after age 20. An added requirement is that they must have lived for five of those ten years in New Zealand or a realm state like Niue, Tokelau or the Cook Islands, since they turned 50.

These principles apply to migrants who have moved to New Zealand from overseas. It also applies to New Zealanders who might have been appointed to a job overseas, or who went abroad for an OE and stayed on.

But from July 2024, their residency period will gradually increase from 10 years to 20 years by July 2042. The rate at which the required years of residency will increase is gradual, rising in two-year chunks. That means it will not reach the full 20-year span till 2042. Further details can be found here:

There are special arrangements for refugees. In addition, people may qualify for NZ Super with less than the relevant residence requirement if they have migrated to here from a country that New Zealand has a social security agreement with. This includes Australia and the UK.

More information on that can be found here:

The rate of payments under NZ Super and the 65-year starting age are not affected by the changes.

Photo of Eric Frykberg
Written by:

Eric Frykberg

Semi-Retired, Eric worked in journalism for 45 years across print, radio and television, in New Zealand, Australia and Britain. He has specialised in business, finance, energy, mining, transport and agriculture. He was also foreign correspondent for RNZ for many years. He can be reached on

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