You can apply for New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) when you are looking for work.
You cannot apply for income-based JSA any more. If you are currently getting income-based JSA, you will keep getting payments while you are eligible until your claim ends.
You may contact the Benefits freephone by ringing 0800 022 4250 for any queries you have about Jobseeker’s Allowance or ‘New Style’ Jobseeker’s Allowance.
Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
Universal Credit has replaced any new applications to income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA).
If you're getting income-based JSA, you will continue to do so until your eligibility ends or your circumstances change.
You need to take reasonable steps to look for work while getting Income-Based JSA.
You must go to regular meetings with your work coach in your local Jobs and Benefits office.
Your claim may be sanctioned or closed if you do not meet these obligations.
If you start working more than 16 hours a week, you might stop being eligible for income-based JSA.
You might also stop being eligible for income-based JSA if:
- your partner starts working 24 hours or more a week, or you start working 16 hours or more a week
- your savings increase to £16,000 or more (including your partner’s savings)
You should make sure you declare any changes in your circumstances immediately, as failure to do so may result in an overpayment of benefit.
You may be entitled to claim Universal Credit if your JSA claim ends.
If you’re moving to Universal Credit from income-based JSA
If you claim income-based JSA you should not do anything until you get a letter telling you it is time to make a claim to Universal Credit.
When you claim Universal Credit, any benefits or tax credits it replaces will stop.
If your income-based JSA claim is ending because your circumstances have changed and you are making a new claim for Universal Credit, you may continue to get income-based JSA for a further two weeks after you make your claim to Universal Credit if you are eligible.
You will normally get this for two weeks, starting from the date of your new claim. The Department for Communities (DfC) will write to you telling you how this works.
You do not need to pay this money back, and it will not affect the amount of Universal Credit you get.
New Style JSA
You may be entitled to New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) if you are actively seeking and fit for employment.
Entitlement to New Style JSA is assessed on Class 1 National Insurance Contributions you have paid and or been credited with in the previous two tax years.
Your savings and partner’s income and savings won’t affect how much you’re paid.
To be eligible for New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) you must have:
- worked as an employee
- paid sufficient Class 1 National Insurance contributions usually within the last two tax years (National Insurance Credits can also count)
You also need to:
- be 18 or over
- be under State Pension Age
- be available for work
- live in Northern Ireland
- not be in full-time education
- be unemployed or work less than 16 hours per week on average and not earn more than £62.20 if you are under 25 years of age, or under £79.80 if you are 25 years of age of older
You will not be eligible if you were self-employed and only paid Class 2 National Insurance contributions, unless you were working as a share fisherman or a volunteer development worker.
While you get New Style JSA, you’ll need to take reasonable steps to look for work as agreed with your work coach.
New Style JSA and Universal Credit
You can get New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance for up to 182 days.
Depending on your circumstances, it can be claimed on its own or at the same time as Universal Credit.
If you get both at the same time, your New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance payment will be deducted from your Universal Credit payment – you may not get any extra money.
If you get New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance, you will get class 1 National Insurance credits. In some circumstances you may only get these credits and no money.
When your New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance ends, you can talk to your work coach about your options.
How to claim
Complete your claim for New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance.
This form is for Northern Ireland claims only.
To apply you will need your:
- National Insurance Number
- bank or building society account details or those of a family member or trusted friend
- employment details for the past six months including employer contact details and dates you worked with them
- wageslips for any current part-time you are doing
to be eligible for New Style JSA you must work under 16 hours and earn less than £62.20 if you are under 25 years of age, or under £79.80 if you are 25 years of age or older.
You’ll also need a statement letter if you get any money from a private pension, a workplace pension or an annuity.
To reclaim New Style JSA, you need to apply again, even if your details have not changed.
Backdating your claim
When you apply, you can ask for your claim to be backdated by up to three months if you were not able to claim sooner.
If you want to backdate your claim, you will need to provide:
- the date you want your claim to start from
- the reason your claim was delayed
Your claim may not be backdated if you do not have a good reason for the delay in making your claim.
If you are unable to complete your claim online you may also claim New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance by contacting the Jobseeker’s Allowance Processing Centre.
If you use sign language, you might be able to use the video relay service to claim ‘New Style’ Jobseeker’s Allowance using British Sign Language (BSL) or Irish Sign Language (ISL).
To access the service go to:
If you're deaf or have hearing loss, you can contact the Department for Communities by using a Textphone to ring 0800 587 1297 and you will be put through to the Text Box service.
If you require written correspondence in an alternative format such as Braille, large print or audio CD, you can tell your work coach or contact the Jobseeker’s Allowance Processing Centre.
If you can, you should complete the claim form via the link above.
Once your claim has been received you will be contacted by phone, by a member of staff from your local Jobs and Benefits office to arrange an interview.
You may get a text message beforehand just to let you know when to expect the call.
It's important that you answer the call as not doing so may delay your claim being processed.
When claiming Jobseeker's Allowance you may get text messages (SMS) from the Department for Communities (DfC).
They will always be clearly marked as ‘DfC’ or DFCNI and will never ask you to click on a link, or to give personal information or financial details by message or email.
Your New Style JSA interview
If you’re invited to an interview, you must go to it. The interview will be at your local Jobs and Benefits office.
You will be asked to provide documentation to confirm your identity after which you will make an agreement about what steps you’ll take to look for work. This is known as a Claimant Commitment.
Proof of identity
You will need to bring all of these documents to your interview:
- one photographic proof of identity
- one proof of address
- one further proof of identity such as a P60 or a bank card
If you have a P45 from your previous employer, bring this to your interview. You can also use this as your further proof of identity.
Examples of photographic identity include:
- current passport
- driving licence
- biometric residence permit
- certificate of naturalisation as a British citizen
- permanent residence permit
Examples of proof of address include:
- payslip or pension statement dated within the last six months
- utility bill dated within the last six months
- Rates bill dated within the last six months
- student loan documentation
Examples of further proof of identity include your:
- savings account book
- personal cheque book
- current debit, credit or store card with a statement confirming the card details
Utility bills can be used for proof of address and as further proof of identity if they are from different suppliers.
Support at your interview
You can take someone with you to your JSA interview.
Contact the Jobs and Benefits Office before the interview if you need:
- support because of a disability or health condition (for example, if you’re deaf and need a sign language interpreter)
- a foreign language interpreter and do not have someone who can help with interpretation
You can find the contact details of your Jobs and Benefits office at:
Your agreement to look for work - Claimant Commitment
At your JSA interview, you must sign an agreement about what steps you’ll take to look for a job. This is called a ‘Claimant Commitment’.
You and your work coach will agree what goes in your Claimant Commitment.
This could include:
- what you need to do to look for work - for example registering with recruitment agencies, writing a CV
- how many hours you need to spend looking for work each week
What you agree to do will depend on things like:
- your health
- your responsibilities at home
- how much help you need to get work or increase your income
Your New Style JSA might be reduced or stopped if you do not do what you’ve agreed to in your Claimant Commitment and you cannot give a good reason.
When claiming New Style JSA, you may get text messages (SMS) from the Department for Communities (DfC).
They will always be clearly marked as ‘DfC’ or DFCNI, and will never ask you to click on a link, or give personal information, or financial details by message or email.
If you are not eligible for New Style JSA you will get a letter to explain why you are not entitled.
Depending on your circumstances you may be able to make a claim for Class 1 National Insurance Credits. This is known as claiming as a non-claimant.
After you make your claim
If you are eligible for New Style JSA, you will be contacted by phone, within five working days of applying, to be invited for interview with a work coach in your local Jobs and Benefits office.
The phone number will appear as 0800, withheld or Caller ID unknown. It is important that you answer this call, as failure to do so may result in a delay in processing or a disallowance of your claim.
You do not need to contact the Department for Communities unless it has been more than five days since you applied, and you haven’t heard anything.
If you disagree with a decision
You can challenge a decision about your claim. This is called asking for mandatory reconsideration.
After your JSA interview
The Department for Communities (DfC) will write to you to either:
- let you know you are eligible for JSA and how much you’ll get
- explain why you’re not eligible for JSA
How much New Style JSA you will get
There’s a maximum amount you can get, but how much you’re entitled to depends on your age.
Use a Benefits Calculator to check how much New Style JSA you can get, and how your other benefits will be affected.
|Age||JSA weekly amount|
|Up to 24||up to £67.20|
|25 or over||up to £84.80|
How you’re paid
All benefits, pensions and allowances are usually paid into your bank, building society or credit union account.
Your first payment
You will serve seven waiting days at the start of your claim for New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance. No benefit is paid for these first seven days.
You are required to go to review meetings with your work coach from your local Jobs and Benefits office and depending on when you go to these, will depend on when your first payment will be made.
Your first payment may not be for the full amount.
After your first payment
Payments will usually be made every two weeks and they will usually be the full amount unless you are receiving part time earnings or income from a pension. You will need to make sure you go to any required review meetings and continue to fulfil the agreed actions on your Claimant Commitment to get your payments.
Maintaining your JSA claim
You should continue to do all the things you have agreed to do on your Claimant Commitment, if you can do them safely.
You can search and apply for work using the JobApplyNI.com website.
You must tell the Jobs and Benefits office or the Jobseeker’s Allowance Processing Centre if your circumstances change, for example you start working or your income changes.
Failure to declare any change in circumstance, may result in an overpayment of benefit which you may have to repay.
Going to regular appointments
Your work coach will arrange appointments with you at regular intervals. It is important that you go to these meetings, as failure to do so may result in your payments being reduced or stopped.
At these appointments, you must show your work coach what you’ve been doing to look for work, for example proof of job applications and interviews.
If you are experiencing domestic abuse, you might be able to get a break of up to 13 weeks from job seeking. Speak to your work coach if you need this support.
Sanctions and when payment can be reduced or stopped
Your JSA payments can be reduced or stopped for a period if you do not do something your work coach asks you to do. This is called being ‘sanctioned’.
For example, if you:
- do not take part in an appointment with your work coach
- do not accept or keep to your agreement to look for work
- turn down a job or training course
- do not apply for any jobs you’re told about
- do not take part in any interviews you’re invited to
- do not go to any training booked for you or take part in employment schemes
You may also be sanctioned if you:
- are not available to start work straight away
- choose to take a pay cut at your current job without a good reason
- have your pay cut at your current job because of something you did such as your behaviour
- leave your last job or training without good reason or because of your behaviour
Contact your Jobs and Benefits Office as soon as possible if any of these apply to you. You may be able to keep your payment if you have good reason.
You’ll be told how long your payment will be reduced or stopped for. It could be for up to 26 weeks (about six months).
If your JSA payment is reduced or stopped
If you disagree with the decision to stop payment, you can ask for the decision to be looked at again - this is called a ‘mandatory reconsideration’.
If you disagree with the outcome of the mandatory reconsideration, you can submit an appeal here:
You should continue with any JSA claim until the dispute is settled.
Report a change of circumstances
You must tell the Department for Communities if your circumstances change, for example you start working or your income changes. This might affect how much you get.
Volunteering will not normally affect your JSA but you should report it before you start.
Your claim might be reduced or stopped if you do not report a change straight away.
A change of circumstance can include:
- starting or stopping work, education, training or an apprenticeship
- changes to your or your partner’s income or working hours
- moving house
- changing your name
- people moving into or out of the place you live (for example your partner or a child)
- changes to the benefits you or anyone else in your house gets
- changes to your pension, savings, investments or property
- changes to other money you get (for example student loans or grants, sick pay or money you get from a charity)
- any changes to your medical condition or disability
- going into hospital or a care home or sheltered accommodation
- going abroad for any length of time
- changes to your immigration status, if you’re not a British citizen
Call the JSA helpline if you’re not sure whether you need to report a change.
If you’re claiming Universal Credit as well as New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), you must report changes to both services.
Contact the Jobseeker's Allowance Processing Centre:
If you’ve been paid too much
If you do not report a change straight away or give wrong or incomplete information, you might be paid too much. If you are, you might have to pay the money back.
Get a proof of benefit letter for Jobseeker’s Allowance
A proof of benefit letter may be needed to access various government supports and services.
If you need proof that you are getting Jobseeker’s Allowance you can get a proof of benefit letter.
If you cannot use the online service, contact Jobseeker’s Allowance by ringing the Benefits Freephone number: 0800 022 4250.
It is important that you select the correct benefit that you are / were in receipt of when requesting a proof of benefit letter. Selecting the incorrect benefit will result in no letter being issued.
Cost of Living Support Payment 2023 - 2024
A Cost of Living Support package has been put in place that includes one-off payments to those on income related benefits, disabled claimants and pensioners.
These payments are intended to provide support with the current rise in the cost of living.
Find out more at:
There are circumstances when you may be paid too much benefit and you will be asked to repay this.
To make a repayment contact Debt Management.
If you require further support, contact Debt Management as soon as possible to discuss an affordable repayment plan and other potential options.