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Jobseeker's Allowance

Jobseeker’s Allowance is the main benefit for people of working age who are out of work or work less than 16 hours a week on average. If you're eligible, it is paid while you're looking for work.

Who can get Jobseeker's Allowance?

To get Jobseeker's Allowance you must be:

  • available for, capable of and actively seeking work
  • aged 18 or over but below State Pension age
  • working less than 16 hours per week on average, depending on the amount of your wage
  • not be in certain types of education
  • not be receiving certain other benefits, and
  • resident in Northern Ireland

Jobseeker's Allowance isn't normally paid to 16 or 17 year olds, except in special cases.

If you have reached Pension Credit Age, you may be able to claim Pension Credit. Contact your local Social Security / Jobs and Benefits office for advice. The minimum age you can get Pension Credit is gradually increasing to 65 alongside the increase in women's State Pension Age.

How it works

There are two types of Jobseeker's Allowance:

  • contribution-based
  • income-based

Contribution-based Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)

Contribution based Jobseeker’s Allowance can be paid for up to 182 days Generally, self-employed contributions will not help you qualify for contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance.

National Insurance contributions for contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

Whether you are entitled to contribution-based JSA depends on the National Insurance contributions you have paid over the last two complete tax years before the benefit year you make your claim in.

A benefit year starts in January (on the first Sunday of that month) and ends the following January (on the Saturday immediately before the first Sunday of that month). Below  is an example.

If you made a claim on 15 February 2005, this would fall in benefit year 2005. This means the contributions you paid during the tax years 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 would be used to work out your benefit.

If you have received other benefits before you claim Jobseeker’s Allowance, this may affect the date your claim will begin. If you are in any doubt about the contributions you have paid and how this will affect your contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, contact your local Social Security or Jobs & Benefits office. This is especially important towards the end of the tax year. The contribution year your benefit is based on will change in January.

Income based Jobseeker’s Allowance

This is based on your income and savings. You may get this if you have not paid enough National Insurance contributions (NICs) or you've only paid contributions for self-employment and you're on a low income.

For more information about National Insurance contributions, go to:

Joint claims for Jobseeker’s Allowance

If you have a partner who was born after 28 October 1947 you may need to claim JSA as part of a couple (this is called a joint claim).

In a joint claim for Jobseeker’s Allowance, both members of certain couples usually have to claim JSA together, and both people must usually meet all the rules for getting income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance. This applies if:

  • you, your partner, or both of you are aged 18 or over and were born after 28 October 1947
  • neither of you are responsible for a child

How to claim

If you wish to claim Jobseekers Allowance, contact your local Jobs and Benefits or Social Security Office.

Jobseeker's Allowance payments

In most cases you will not get any money for the first three days of your claim. These are called 'waiting days'.

Jobseeker's Allowance is paid at the end of every fortnight into your bank or building society account. This is the best way to get your benefit because you can choose how and when to take your money out of your account.

If you get an occupational or personal pension, it may affect the amount of benefit you get.

Contribution-based Jobseeker's Allowance

The maximum weekly rates are:

Age Amount
Aged 16 - 24 £57.35
Aged 25 or over £72.40

Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance

The maximum weekly rates are:

Type of person Amount
Single people, aged under 25 £57.35
Single people, aged 25 or over £72.40
Couples and civil partnerships (both aged 18 or over) £113.70
Lone parents (aged under 18) £57.35
Lone parents (aged 18 or over) £72.40

For income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, the amount may be less after your household income, pension and savings are taken into account.

What happens next

Attending the Social Security/Jobs and Benefits office

When you claim Jobseeker's Allowance, you'll need to attend an interview at the Social Security/Jobs and Benefits office. An adviser will help you draw up a 'jobseeker's agreement'. This will set out the steps you agree to take to find work.

To keep getting benefit you'll have to attend regular jobsearch reviews, usually every fortnight. There's a longer review if you've been getting benefit for 13 weeks.

For more information about the help you can get to find work, go to:

If you think the decision is wrong

If the Social Security/Jobs and Benefits office decides that you can't get Jobseeker's Allowance and you think the decision is wrong you can appeal.

Changes in your circumstances

You must tell the Social Security/Jobs and Benefits Office as soon as possible about any changes in your circumstances, as it may affect your benefit.

New Rules for European Economic Area and returning UK Nationals from 1 January 2014

The rules on how people from the European Economic Area (EEA), as well as UK nationals who are returning from living or working outside the UK, can get  Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) changed on 1 January 2014

The new rules mean that:

  • people who come to the UK must be able to prove that they have stayed in the UK or the Common Travel Area (this means the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or the Republic of Ireland) for at least three months before they can claim income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • people who come to the UK from the EEA will only be able to get Jobseeker’s Allowance for nine months at most. They will have to attend an interview when they have been getting benefit for six months called a Genuine Prospect of Work assessment. If the EEA national cannot prove that they have a good chance of finding work, their JSA will stop. If they can show that they have the chance of work they can continue to get JSA, but only for another three months at most

Some people registered as unemployed in the country they are from, can register as a jobseeker in the UK as long as they can show a completed form from that country. They may be paid unemployment benefit directly from their own country at the same rate they would receive at home for three to six months.

Information in alternative languages

Information in alternative languages on Jobseeker's Allowance.

Language Leaflet Type
العربية - Arabic Jobseeker's Allowance fact sheet in Arabic (PDF 80 KB)
简体中文 - Chinese Jobseeker's Allowance fact sheet in Chinese (PDF 168 KB)
Latviešu valodâ - Latvian Jobseeker's Allowance fact sheet in Latvian (PDF 70 KB)
Lietuviškai - Lithuanian Jobseeker's Allowance fact sheet in Lithuanian (PDF 69 KB)
Polski - Polish Jobseeker's Allowance fact sheet in Polish (PDF 73 KB)
Português - Portuguese Jobseeker's Allowance fact sheet in Portuguese (PDF 30 KB)
Español - Spanish Jobseeker's Allowance fact sheet in Spanish (PDF 31 KB)

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