A 71-year-old teacher whose pension is deducted under a controversial piece of legislation says she dreads the day she can no longer work.
Jan and Marcus McKeogh are both denied the newly introduced Winter Energy Payment because they don't technically receive the New Zealand pension.
"There was always a glimmer of hope that fairness would prevail and that we would receive it," Jan said.
"That feeling of being on the outer is a very intangible emotion."
While the Christchurch couple are eligible for the New Zealand pension, they also receive pensions from Germany. This means their NZ Super is reduced to nothing under section 70 of the Social Security Act.
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The act contains a policy giving the Government the right to reduce someone's pension dollar for dollar if they also receive a pension or fund from overseas, and in some situations if their partner receives a foreign pension.
But deductions bring another hit for pensioners struggling to stay warm this winter - rather than being available to people eligible for NZ Super, the payments will only be given to those who are currently receiving NZ Super, even if it is only a few dollars.
"Being a New Zealander, I feel deeply ashamed that this unfairness is allowed to prevail. It is perceived by the powers that be, and MSD [Ministry of Social Development] drives this very, very strongly, that they're trying to be fair and treat everybody fairly."
Jan said that wasn't the case for her and Marcus, who were missing out on payments that could help towards a load of firewood for the winter, or help them heat more parts of their house.
The couple lived and worked in Germany for some years and contributed 9 per cent of their salary to their pension there. It is similar to KiwiSaver - which New Zealanders can still receive without it affecting their own pension.
Missing out on the energy payments was "pretty gut-wrenching".
"If I didn't work I don't know what we'd do. I dread the day that I can't work, and that day will come."
Jan is one of a group who brought the matter of deductions under section 70 before the Human Rights Review Tribunal earlier this year. The tribunal's findings may still be a year or two away.
MSD group general manager client service support Dwina Dickinson said the payments were only available to people receiving a main benefit, NZ Super, or a Veteran's Pension.
"When payments are reduced to zero, they're generally not entitled to receive WEP – which is the situation here.
"As long as a person, or one partner in a couple, is receiving some amount of either a benefit, NZS or VP, they'll be able to get the Winter Energy Payment."
Jim Wolfson, 75, said section 70 is the "most untouchable thing in parliament".
The loss of the winter payments was "just one more way to rub our faces in it and pour salt in our wounds".
Wolfson contributed nearly 9 per cent of his salary to his US social security while working in America, and his employer contributed as well.
He is able to get by on the payments, but because his New Zealand pension has been deducted to zero, most of life's little luxuries have gone with it.
The former US man moved to New Zealand thinking he would be able to go home for visits regularly, but because of the deductions he has not been back to see his family, and has two grandchildren he hasn't met yet.
He cannot afford to go on dates or go to restaurants anymore - even McDonald's is out of his price range, he said.
"Luckily I don't have a mortgage, I don't have a car payment, otherwise I would go under."
While he can afford to heat his living room, the Helensville man can't spare the money to keep his bedroom warm in winter, which is one area the winter payments could have helped in.
"If suddenly they started paying me Super my whole life would change ... you can't imagine how many aspects of my life are fraught with disaster because of this unfair law."