Work and Income finally back pays woman more than two decades after mistake

Liz Laskey
Liz Laskey Photo credit: RNZ/Supplied

Sarah Robson for RNZ

A woman has got a more than $4000 back payment from Work and Income, after a mistake was made when she was applying for the benefit more than two decades ago.

Liz Laskey lost her job in 1999 and applied for what was then known as the domestic purposes benefit.

She received a redundancy payment and a retirement payment - both of which had to be taken into account when determining her benefit start date.

Her case was reviewed earlier this year, after RNZ revealed that Work and Income had spent decades wrongly advising some benefit applicants that could not get support until their redundancy had run out.

At the time, the Ministry of Social Development said no errors had been made in how it had treated Laskey's redundancy payment when calculating her benefit start date.

However, Laskey asked for her case to be looked at again.

Ministry of Social Development general manager of client service delivery Kay Read said while Laskey's redundancy payment was treated correctly, her separate retirement payment was not.

"When [Liz] applied for a domestic purposes benefit we incorrectly assessed her retirement payment, and included that with her final pay to determine her last day of employment, this was an error," Read said.

"This had an impact on the date her benefit started. Because of this error, we have recalculated her commencement date. We have called her to apologise for the error and repaid the arrears."

Laskey said she was happy to get what she was entitled to.

"However, that money I could have done with 20-odd years ago being a single parent with two dependent children and out of work for X amount of time," she said.

Laskey is worried about how other people fare when trying to navigate the system and get errors corrected.

"I was living off credit cards, what are these other people doing to get by when they're refused the help that they're entitled to?" she said.

"It does concern me that people are missing out and they don't have the know-how to go back and say, 'you have got it wrong'."

Read said the ministry is committed to ensuring people in need of assistance get what they are entitled to.

She said anyone who thinks an error has been made should get in touch.