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The amount you get from NZ superannuation is different for each retiree. It depends on your personal situation and how much other income you earn.

If you’re 65+ and only earning NZ superannuation, you could get:

  • $519 a week if you are single (living alone or with a dependent child)
  • $478 a week if you are single (living with someone who is not your partner)
  • $400 a week each if you are in a couple and living together

This is after tax and what you will receive in your bank account as of April 1 2024. These rates will get updated again in April 2025. Source: Work and income.

However, if you earn extra income (e.g. a part-time job, rent from an investment, shares) the amount you get in the hand may be less.

This isn’t because you qualify for less superannuation, but because you are taxed at a different rate if you earn other income at the same time.

Why is this important?

The percentage of working Kiwis 65+ is higher than the UK, the US and Australia, (according to The Retirement Commission).

Out of the Kiwis aged 65-69, 44% still have jobs. And this number will increase as our population ages. So, the amount of NZ super Kiwis pocket will be different.

What are the NZ superannuation rates?

Superannuation is a government-provided pension scheme for Kiwis aged 65+.

Here are the rates as of April 1, 2024:

How much tax do I pay for NZ superannuation?

To be clear, earning extra income does not affect the amount of superannuation you get.

(You are not penalised for working past 65).

But if your other income is more than what you get in NZ super, it becomes your primary income.

Then you’ll be in a special tax code and pay more tax on your NZ super. That means you get less money in the hand.

So, if you only get NZ Superannuation, or your extra income is less than the pension, your tax code will be “M”.

This is how your NZ superannuation amounts can change, depending on the tax code:

Here are 3 scenarios showing how superannuation can change, depending on tax:

Teacher Sally doesn’t get the full superannuation

Sally was a teacher. She retired from her private teaching job at 65. She now lives at home with her husband, who is also retired.

They both claim the pension. But Sally likes to work as a reliever at her former school, a few days a week.

She gets paid $300 a day and usually works 2 days a week.

This $600 a week is earned from her part-time job. That’s more than the $440 a week she gets from superannuation (pre-tax).

So her teaching job is classed as her main income. That’s why her tax code for superannuation is S. That means instead of getting $400 deposited in her account each week, she gets $382.

John and Jenny get $153 a week less in NZ Super because they work

John and Jenny have been married for years and are both nearing 70, but neither of them is ready to stop working at their family business.

They’ve taken a step back, and now pay themselves $50k a year each. That means their tax code is SH.

Instead of getting the $799 they’d get if they didn’t work, collectively they’ll now get $646 a week in superannuation ($153 a week less).

Wendy gets $112 a week less because she has rental properties

Wendy is 65 and has just retired as an engineer. She wants to devote her entire retirement to being there for her family and staying close to home.

Wendy has been diligently building up a portfolio of investment properties.

In 2021, she sold 4 properties and bought 2 apartments without a mortgage.

Together, these rental properties earn her $1,500 a week before tax ($78k a year).

Wendy’s tax code is ST. She’ll get $407 a week from the Super. She can use this to supplement her passive income. That’s $112 less a week than if she didn’t invest in property.

Why can’t I just live off the pension?

NZ Super doesn’t give you enough money to pay for everything you need in retirement.

That’s according to the latest NZ Retirement Expenditure Guidelines report by Massey University.

For instance, according to the report, a “no-frills” lifestyle costs $781 a week. That’s for a single person living in Auckland, Christchurch or Wellington.

So if you just rely on NZ Super, you could find yourself a couple of hundred dollars a week short.

I once worked with an investor called John. He was a retired office worker who was used to getting about $1,000 a week in the hand to live off.

He’d just retired and his income dropped to just under $500 a week, which was the pension at the time.

That meant his income halved over night. He was almost $300 a week short on the “no frills” lifestyle.

Thankfully, John and I had worked to build a property investment portfolio as part of his retirement plan.

He then used the rental income from the property portfolio to supplement his NZ superannuation.

This made up for the shortfall, so he could maintain a good standard of living in retirement.

How do I prepare for retirement?

This article isn’t designed to be negative. Instead, its to encourage you to think about your retirement.

The blunt truth is that for many Kiwis, NZ Super will not give you the retirement lifestyle you want.

Sometimes you Google how much superannuation is and think that amount is guaranteed, but if you earn an income that’s not what you get.

On top of that, it's likely the amount of assets you have will impact the amount you get as well.

The good news is there are things you can do to improve and make more money.

For instance, you may contribute more to your KiwiSaver. Or, you might start to save more. But many Kiwis also turn to property investment.

While NZ Super gives you a safety net for retirement, it shouldn’t be your only strategy.

Especially since the government might take it away or change it so you’re not eligible.

Many Kiwis I work with don’t even factor NZ Super into their retirement plan. They aim to have enough money to look after themselves in retirement.

That way, if the programme changes, they’re not affected. If it’s still there, it’s a nice bonus.

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Andrew Nicol

Managing Director, 20+ Years' Experience Investing In Property, Author & Host

Andrew Nicol, Managing Director at Opes Partners, is a seasoned financial adviser and property investment expert with 20+ years of experience. With 40 investment properties, he hosts the Property Academy Podcast, co-authored 'Wealth Plan' with Ed Mcknight, and has helped 1,894 Kiwis achieve financial security through property investment.

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