Three Support Funds are available to assist people with disabilities in New Zealand to participate in open employment:
Support Funds are used to cover the applicant's "cost of disability" - any additional costs that a jobseeker or student has as a direct consequence of their disability, when undertaking the same job or training as a person without a disability.
Support Funds are intended as last resort funding, so assistance should be sought from other funding sources first.
The Funds are available to all disabled people, not just those registered as jobseekers with Workbridge. Workbridge works with the applicant and any supporting disability or other agency to achieve the best results for the applicant.
Specific eligibility criteria exist for each of the three Funds, and determine whether applications are approved or declined. The Funds are open to anyone who meets the criteria. The eligibility criteria and funding limits are set by government.
The three training and employment Support Funds for people with disabilities were established by the Government in 1994, to enable people with disabilities to take up open employment opportunities.
Workbridge administers the fund on behalf of the Ministry of Social Development.
Anyone with a disability can self-refer or be referred by a disability agency. A person does not need to be registered with Workbridge in order to access the funds.
How they work
Workbridge staff are responsible for discussing eligibility criteria with potential applicants, and for accepting applications.
Workbridge staff also have an ongoing administration role, and will follow up all funding recipients.
If your application is not successful, you will be advised in writing of the reason/s your application was declined. If you consider that you meet the criteria, and an incorrect decision has been made, you can appeal the decision. The Review Committee is independent of the people who declined your application.
A Support Funds Review Application form is available in either or PDF or Microsoft Word format below. Most reviews are completed within 10 working days, but this timeframe may may be extended if additional information, vetting, opinion or advice is required.
How to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please click here for the contact details of the Workbridge centre nearest you.
If you wish to have an agent communicate with Workbridge on your behalf, complete the Appoint an Agent form.
Sometimes Workbridge will ask you for permission to exchange information with another person, organisation or agency. Examples may be a family member who is concerned about your application, or a current or past employer. In these cases we will ask you to complete a Client Authority to Exchange, Discuss and Record Personal Information form. On this form you are able to limit the amount of information you wish us to discuss.
Eligibility criteria for all Funds
The eligibility criteria used for the Support Funds are set by the Government. It is Workbridge's responsibility to ensure these criteria are met.
The criteria common to all three Funds, are:
The applicant must be a person with a disability. A person with a disability is defined as someone who "...has been identified as having a physical, psychiatric, intellectual, sensory or age-related disability or a combination of these, which is likely to continue for a minimum of six months and result in a reduction of independent function to the extent that on-going support is required".
Some health conditions may not be covered by Support Funds. Check with Workbridge to see if you meet the disability criteria.
The applicant must be currently and usually living in New Zealand and be a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident (i.e. not be in New Zealand unlawfully or on a temporary work permit).
Cost of Disability
The applicant must have some additional costs associated with their disability. In Support Funds terms this is referred to as a 'Cost of Disability' and is defined as: the additional cost that an applicant has as a direct consequence of their disability when undertaking the same job or training as a person without a disability or impairment.
Workbridge can assist you to identify your cost of disability.
Applicants must be aged between 16 and not yet 65, although there are some situations where this criteria may be negotiable.
If the applicant has not yet turned 65 when their application was first approved and they are applying for assistance to stay in their current job then an application may be considered. Similarly, if an applicant is under 16 an application may be considered if the applicant has a properly issued school leaving certificate and is leaving school to enter employment.
Always talk to Workbridge about any concerns you may have about whether you meet the age criteria.
If an applicant's rehabilitation or disability costs are the responsibility of ACC, then the applicant is not eligible for Support Fund assistance for costs associated with that injury or disability. If, however, the applicant had an existing disability prior to an accident that is not covered by ACC or the applicant subsequently develops a disability unrelated to the accident, then Support Fund assistance may be provided.
Support Funds are for individuals, and cannot be paid to a third party or an organisation to distribute on behalf of an individual.
Support Funds are considered to be last resort funding. Other funding sources should be investigated before Support Funds assistance can be considered. Workbridge and Work and Income are two of the organisations which may be able to provide information on other funding sources.
In some circumstances, the applicant will be asked to make a contribution to the cost of the equipment or transport paid for by Support Funds. This is because Support Funds can only pay for the extra cost associated with an applicant's disability. Workbridge will explain any contribution that an applicant may be asked to make.
Your Guide to the Support Funds
Available in all of our centres is a booklet with information about the three Support Funds.
The MSD Job Support Fund Operational Guidelines
This handbook outlines Operational Policy in respect of the Job Support Fund only. You are able to access it from here.