Work and Income threatens to cut benefits of dying man if he receives money from Givealittle page set up in his honour

Twenty-six-year-old Nykala Garrett was forced to quit her job at the end of last year to care for her partner Rikki Tako, who has terminal cancer and less than six months to live.

Since then, the couple and their five children have been relying on a Work and Income Supported Living Payment.

"We want to enjoy the time we have left together, and be positive, and have experiences, and do things that bring us joy, and then, instead, my days are consumed with trying to organise all of this," Garrett said.

She was referring to the Givealittle page, set up in her name, to pay for funeral and care costs. It's already raised $40,000 in donations. 

"We were like, 'Maybe we'll raise a few thousand' - [we] weren't expecting this generosity."

Nor was she expecting a call from the Ministry of Social Development to arrange an urgent meeting regarding the couple's benefit eligibility.

Garrett said they took her into a room with a closed door, with a member of the fraud team and a manager, and told her the money could be considered a cash asset.

But when approached by Newshub, Gloria Campbell, the Ministry of Social Development regional commissioner of Taranaki, King Country and Whanganui said the money pledged through Givealittle is not considered income or a cash asset because "Nykala and Rikki have not received it. We have not adjusted Nykala and Rikki's benefit payments because of their Givealittle".

She did not explain what would happen after the money was transferred out of the Givealitte account.

But Garrett said she was told the benefit would be cut and she "could lose any support basically".

"I get cracking down on benefits, I do. But they're going after the wrong people here."

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