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
  • 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 & 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

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 17 February 2014, this would fall in benefit year 2014. This means the contributions you paid during the tax years 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 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 & Benefits or Social Security office.

Information in alternative languages

Jobseeker's Allowance - what happens after I claim?

After you claim Jobseeker's Allowance, you'll need to go to an interview at the Social Security/Jobs and & Benefits office. Find out what happens next, how and at what rates Jobseeker's Allowance is paid, and other useful information about this benefit.

Attending the Social Security/Jobs and & Benefits office

When you claim Jobseeker's Allowance, you'll need to go to an interview at the Social Security/Jobs & 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 go to 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 see

Jobseeker's Allowance payments

In most cases you will not get any money for the first seven 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 £57.90
Aged 25 or over  £73.10

Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance

The maximum weekly rates are:

Type of person  Amount
Single people, aged under 25  £57.90
Single people, aged 25 or over  £73.10
Couples and civil partnerships (both aged 18 or over)  £114.85
Lone parents (aged under 18)  £57.90
Lone parents (aged 18 or over)  £73.10

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

Going Abroad on Holiday

If you go abroad on holiday (Republic of Ireland included) you need to complete your JS40 booklet and close your Jobseeker’s Allowance claim.  You will then need to contact your local office as soon as you return home if you still wish to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance.

If you think the decision is wrong

If the Social Security/Jobs & 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 & Benefits Office as soon as possible about any changes in your circumstances, as it may affect your benefit.

Jobseeker’s Allowance – rules for couples and anyone entering the UK

There are rules for couples and people from the European Economic Area (EEA) entering the UK that apply to any Jobseeker's Allowance claim. Find out how these circumstances may affect the rate and duration of Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) that can be paid.

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 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

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 and are resident as a Jobseeker will only be able to get income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance for a maximum of six months
  • people who come to the UK from the EEA and are resident as a Retained Worker will only be able to get income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance for a maximum of nine months

People from the EEA who are resident as a jobseeker will have to go to an interview when they have been getting benefit for three months called a Genuine Prospect of Work assessment. If the individual cannot prove that they have a good chance of finding work, their income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance will stop. If they can show that they have the chance of work, they can continue to get income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, but only for another three months at most.

Some people, registered as unemployed in the country they are originally 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 if living there, for three to six months.

Jobseeker's Allowance - Joint Claims

Jobseekers' Allowance (JSA) joint claims are claims where both members of certain couples have to look for a job and satisfy the conditions for getting JSA.

This helps make sure both members are directly involved in the workforce and can receive all available help and advice in order to find work.

Who has to make a joint claim?

Couples with no dependant children claiming income based Jobseeker's Allowance will be required to make a joint claim where:

  • at least one member of the couple was born after 28 October 1947
  • is also aged 18 or over

In joint claim cases both members will be required to sign the application form and accept equal responsibility for the claim and the reporting of any relevant changes of circumstances.

Each member will normally have to go to a New Jobseeker Interview and sign an individual Jobseeker's Agreement unless they are already taking part in a training programme or are excused from meeting certain JSA conditions if they meet certain criteria.

People for who joint claims are not appropriate

There are certain circumstances where couples are not required to make a joint claim:

  • either member is working over 16 hours but under 25 hours at the outset of the claim
  • either member no longer qualifies
  • one member is over the age at which they can get State Pension
  • either member is receiving Young Person’s Bridging Allowance only
  • payment of a European Economic Area imported benefit is being made (whether or not there is also an element of income based Jobseeker’s Allowance)
  • either member is a Person from Abroad
  • either member is subject to immigration controls and has no recourse to public funds or cannot get a work permit
  • the woman is pregnant and within 11 weeks of her expected week of confinement and does not wish to make herself available for work or is receiving Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance
  • one member is receiving Statutory Sick Pay from a job of 16 hours or more per week
  • one member of the couple is temporarily absent from the UK at the date of the claim

Exemption Categories within Joint Claims for JSA

The following people can be excused from meeting the conditions:

  • people incapable of work due to pregnancy
  • carers
  • people over the age at which they can get Pension Credit
  • refugees on a course to improve their English
  • people required to go to court
  • certain people in relevant education
  • people aged 18 in full time education
  • people in employment who live in a residential home
  • people involved in a trade dispute
  • People with limited capability for work
  • Certain disabled workers
  • Blind people

What else should I know?

Depending on your circumstances you can be excused from having to meet some JSA rules - for example the rule that you must be capable of work, or that you must not be in full time education. Note though that in a joint claim only one of you can be excused at a time.

If you are excused from meeting JSA rules your Social Security or Jobs and Benefits office will advise you of the start date and length of time you can be excused for.

You will not receive National Insurance (NI) credits for the period you are excused unless certain circumstances apply. Your Social Security or Jobs and Benefits office can advise you further.

Help and advice about joint claims

You can get more help and information on how the joint claims process will affect your claim to Jobseeker's Allowance by contacting your local Social Security or Jobs & Benefits office.

Jobseeker's Allowance – Premiums for people with children, carers and pensioners

Premiums are special additions in the calculation of Jobseeker's Allowance. They recognise that special groups of customers have extra needs. There are various categories of Premiums. This page contains information for people with children, for carers and for pensioners. who may be entitled to a premium.

Premiums for people with children

New claims for income-based Jobseeker's Allowance will not include payments for children. This is because Child Tax Credit will provide money for children.

The Family Premium

This premium will be paid if you or your partner are responsible for, and in the same household as, a dependent child under 16 years, or under 20 years and still in full time non-advanced education. It may also be paid if you are still receiving Child Benefit. It is paid if you are a lone parent who gets the Disability Premium or one of the three Pensioner Premiums.

The Family Premium can be awarded in addition to other premiums except Family Premium (Lone Parent).

The Family Premium (Lone Parent)

If you are responsible for, and in the same household as, a child or young person under the age of 20 and claiming as a single person, you will get this premium in place of the Family Premium.

Existing Lone Parents who do not receive Family Premium (Lone Parent) because they are receiving a more beneficial premium, will retain an underlying entitlement to Family Premium (Lone Parent), which will become payable if they stop receiving the more beneficial premium.

A lone parent will lose underlying entitlement to Family Premium (Lone Parent) if:

  • they cease to be a lone parent for a period of more than 12 weeks
  • there is a break in entitlement to benefit of more than 12 weeks

The Disabled Child Premium

If you are responsible for a child or young person under the age of 20, you will get this premium if:

  • the dependant is getting Disability Living Allowance
  • the dependant is no longer receiving Disability Living Allowance because of admission to hospital
  • the dependant is certified blind or ceased to be certified as blind up to 28 weeks before the claim was made

This Disabled Child Premium can be awarded in addition to other premiums.

There will be no entitlement if the child or the young person has capital of more than £3,000.

The Disabled Child Premium can be paid for each child that satisfies the above qualifying conditions.

Premiums for carers

You may be able to get this premium if you or your partner are getting Carer's Allowance or have claimed Carer's Allowance, but could not be paid it because the person who claimed already had another higher benefit.

More than one Carer Premium may be awarded if both the customer and their partner satisfy the qualifying conditions.

The Carer Premium is payable for eight weeks after a Carer's Allowance award ceases.

The Carer Premium can be awarded in addition to other premiums and can be paid to both you and your partner.

Pensioner Premiums

There are three types of premiums applicable to people who have reached the qualifying age for Pension Credit. You will automatically get the one which pays the most.

The Pensioner Premium

You may get this premium if your partner is Pension Credit age or over;

The Enhanced Pensioner Premium

You may get this premium if your partner has reached 75 and does not qualify for the higher pensioner premium.

The Higher Pensioner Premium

You may get this premium at higher rate.

the higher rate is payable to customers who are members of a couple

In couple cases the couple rate is paid even if only one of you fulfils the qualifying conditions.

Rates of Jobseeker's Allowance (Income Based) Premiums

Effective from 11 April 2016

Premium  
Family £17.45 
Family (Lone parent rate) £17.45 
Pensioner - couple (in IS cases only the couple rate can apply) £122.70
Disabled Child £60.06 
Carer £34.60 

Jobseeker's Allowance – Premiums for people with long-term illness or disability

Premiums are special additions in the calculation of Jobseeker's Allowance. They recognise that special groups of customers have extra needs. There are various categories of Premiums.  This page contains information for people who have a long-term illness or a disability.

Premiums for people with long-term illness or disability

The Disability Premium

If you are under Pension Credit age, you may be able to get this premium if you or your partner are:

  • receiving a Disability Living Allowance
  • receiving a Working Tax Credit (with a disability element)
  • receiving Incapacity Benefit/Employment & Support Allowance - long term rate
  • receiving Severe Disablement Allowance
  • provided with an invalid vehicle
  • receiving payments through the invalid vehicle scheme, or war pensioners vehicle scheme, or their mobility component of Disability Living Allowance is being paid direct to Motability Finance Limited
  • certified as severely sight impaired or blind by a consultant ophthalmologist

If blindness ends, you will still get the payment for up to 28 weeks after you cease to be certified blind.

The Enhanced Disability Premium

An enhanced disability premium may be paid to Jobseeker’s Allowance (IB) customers who:

  • are receiving DLA Higher Rate Care Component
  • or have a dependent child receiving DLA Higher Rate Care Component

The premium is payable at two rates:

  • a lower rate for single people
  • a higher rate for couples

The single rate Enhanced Disability Premium is awarded when the jobseeker is:

  • single
  • a lone parent
  • is aged less than the age at which they can get Pension Credit
  • is in receipt of DLA Higher Rate Care Component

The couple rate Enhanced Disability Premium is awarded when:

  • both customer and partner are under Pension Credit age
  • the customer or partner is in receipt of DLA Higher Rate Care Component

The Child Rate Enhanced Disability Premium is awarded for each dependent child who:

  • is in receipt of DLA Higher Rate Care Component
  • continues to be a member of the customer's family
  • does not have savings over £3,000

The Enhanced Disability Premium can be awarded in addition to other premiums.

The Severe Disability Premium

Single rate

If the customer is single they may get the lower rate premium if:

  • they live alone and get Attendance Allowance or the middle or the higher care component of Disability Living Allowance
  • no one gets Carer's Allowance for looking after them

Couples

If the customer has a partner, they are entitled to the severe disability premium if:

  • the couple live alone or are treated as living alone
  • they both receive a Disability Living Allowance care component at the higher or middle rate
  • the customer is receiving a Disability Living Allowance care component at the higher or middle rate and the partner is blind or in receipt of Attendance Allowance
  • if neither the customer nor their partner receives Attendance Allowance or Disability Living Allowance care component at the higher or middle rate, they are not entitled to the severe disability premium

If Carer's Allowance is in payment for either the customer or partner, when both receive Disability Living Allowance higher or middle rate, the customer is entitled to the severe disability premium at the lower rate.

If Carer's Allowance is not paid to either partner, the customer is entitled to the severe disability premium at the higher rate.

The Severe Disability Premium can be awarded in addition to other premiums (usually Disability Premium or Higher Pensioner Premium) and can be paid to both customer or partner or both.

Rates of Jobseeker's Allowance (Income Based) Premiums

Effective from 6 April 2015

  Premium  
Disability – single £32.25 
Disability – couple £45.96 
Enhanced disability single rate £15.75 
Enhanced disability couple rate £22.60 
Enhanced disabled child rate £24.43 
Severe disability - lower (single) £61.85 
Severe disability - couple (lower rate) £61.85 
Severe disability - couple (higher rate) £123.70 

Jobseeker's Allowance - Share Fishermen

A ‘share fisherman’ is someone who works in the fishing industry who is paid a share of the earnings or profit of the boat.

About Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)

Jobseeker’s Allowance is available in one of two ways:

  • contribution-based – this is a weekly amount based on your age and the National Insurance (NI) contributions you have paid - it can be paid for up to six months and does not include any extra money for a partner or other dependants
  • income-based – this is for people who do not have enough NI contributions or who do not have enough money coming in

National Insurance contribution conditions

Share fishermen pay a higher rate of self-employed (Class 2) NI contributions to help them qualify for contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance.

There are two contribution conditions. You must meet both of them to qualify:

Condition 1

You must have paid special Class 2 or ordinary Class 1 contributions on earnings of at least 25 times the lower earnings limit in one of the two Relevant Income Tax Years (RITYs) on which your claim is based. Credits do not count.

Condition 2

You must have paid (or been credited with paying) special Class 2 or ordinary Class 1 contributions on earnings of at least 50 times the lower earnings limit in both of the two Relevant Income Tax Years (RITYs) on which your claim is based.

Note: The RITY’s are the last two full tax years before the benefit year in which the ‘jobseeking period’ begins. (For more information on jobseeking periods ask at your Social Security or Jobs & Benefits office).

When do the tax and benefits years begin?

Tax years begin on 6 April each year.

Benefit years begin on the first Sunday in January each year.

JSA and the different rules about work and earnings

Contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

Share fishermen who claim contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance can benefit from rules about work and earnings which take account of the special nature of their job.

The normal rules:

  • people who work for 16 hours or more a week on average cannot normally get Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • people can normally earn up to £5 a week before contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance is affected
  • earnings are taken off Jobseeker’s Allowance on the date the earnings are due to be paid
  • variable earnings are averaged to work out how much is taken off

Rules for share fishermen

  • the 16-hour rule does not apply because of the different work patterns, where a single fishing trip can last for more than 16 hours
  • share fishermen can earn up to £20 a week before contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance is affected
  • earnings are taken off Jobseeker’s Allowance in the week they are earned, not the week they are paid
  • benefit is adjusted each week to take account of the earnings for that week - earnings are not averaged out

Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

The different rules that apply to share fishermen claiming contribution–based Jobseeker’s Allowance do not apply if they claim Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Self-employed people (including share fishermen) have their hours of work averaged out, even if they are not working when they claim. If you work 16 hours or more a week on average, or if your partner works 24 hours or more, you cannot get Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Your client adviser/claims assessor can give you more information about Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Benefits and help when looking for work

If you're unemployed and available for work you may qualify for Jobseeker's Allowance and other benefits, depending on your circumstances. You may also get help and support searching for a job through the training programmes.

Jobseeker's Allowance

Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) is a benefit for unemployed people who are looking for work. You can claim JSA if you're:

  • able to work
  • available for work
  • actively looking for work

You must also be:

  • under State Pension age, which you can calculate using the State Pension calculator
  • working less than 16 hours a week on average
  • living in Northern Ireland
  • Calculate your State Pension age

There are two types of JSA: Contribution-based and Income-based.

Contribution-based Jobseeker's Allowance

You build up your entitlement to contribution-based JSA by paying National Insurance contributions (NICs) while you're employed.

Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance

If you're on a low income, you could get income-based JSA if you haven't paid enough NICs. How much you get depends on things like your partner's income, savings, or looking after children.

Being available for work

You must usually be available to start work immediately, but if you:

  • have caring responsibilities, you must be available to start work within one week
  • are providing a service, you must be available to start work within 24 hours
  • are involved in voluntary work, you must be available to start work within one week, and to go to an interview within 48 hours

You may be able to restrict the number of hours you are available for work if you have caring responsibilities, or if you have a physical or mental condition that affects the work you can do.

Jobseeker's Allowance if you're 16 or 17

If you're unemployed and 16 or 17 years old, you can't usually get JSA. However, you may be able to get income-based JSA if:

  • you're forced to live away from your parents
  • you'll suffer severe hardship if you don't get JSA
  • you and your partner are responsible for a child

Find out more about Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)

You can find out more about JSA by following the link below. If you want to speak to someone, contact your local Social Security / Jobs & Benefits office.

Help looking for work

New jobseeker interview

When you claim Jobseeker's Allowance, you'll need to go to a 'new jobseeker interview' at the Social Security / Jobs & Benefits office.

An adviser will talk to you about the extra help you could get:

  • for things like writing a CV, preparation for interviews, confidence building and work skills
  • to look for work if you haven’t had experience of looking for a job for some time
  • if you're looking for professional or executive jobs
  • with reading, maths or English
  • to improve your skills to suit the type of jobs available locally
  • with one-off expenses that might help you get back to work quickly, such as the cost of buying formal clothes for an interview

This support depends on your circumstances, and what's available in your area.

Jobseeker reviews

To keep getting JSA you'll have to go to jobsearch reviews, usually every fortnight.

Your reviews cover:

  • what you have been doing to find work (you should keep a record)
  • changes you might need to make to improve your chances of success
  • any additional help you think you need

You'll also have to attend an adviser interview after 13 weeks.

Other benefits you may be able to claim

You may be able to claim other benefits while you look for work if you're:

  • a parent
  • caring for someone
  • paying rent
  • on a low income
  • a person with disabilities

You can get advice about benefits from your local Social Security / Jobs & Benefits office.

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