Jobseeker’s Allowance

Jobseeker’s Allowance 

You can apply for Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) to help you while you look for work.
 
How much you get depends on your circumstances.
 
The rules are different in Northern Ireland.

To get JSA you usually have to:
 
  • be 18 or over (but below State Pension age)
  • be available for work
  • meet the other rules for eligibility
 
When you apply for JSA, you must go to an interview to complete your claim.

After you’ve applied
 
You have to agree to a ‘Claimant Commitment’ if you want to claim JSA. This is an agreement that you’ll complete certain tasks, eg make a work plan.
 
A work coach will help you to make a work plan for how you’re going to find a job.
 
What you agree to do will depend on things such as your health, your responsibilities at home and how much help you need to get work or increase your income.
 
Your JSA payments could be stopped for a period (‘sanctioned’) if you don’t do something you agreed to in your Claimant Commitment and you can’t give a good reason.
 
You must go to a Jobcentre Plus office (usually every 2 weeks or when asked). This is known as ‘signing on’.
 
When you sign on, you need to show your work coach what you’ve been doing to look for work, eg job applications and interviews.

You’ll get contribution-based JSA if you’ve paid enough Class 1 National Insurance contributions (NICs) in the 2 tax years before the benefit year you’re claiming in. A benefit year runs from the first Sunday in January to the Saturday before the first Sunday in January of the next year.
 
That means you must have:
  • worked for 26 weeks in one of these years earning at least the lower earnings limit for that tax year
  • paid class 1 contributions or received National Insurance credits in both of those tax 
You’ll get income-based JSA if one of the following applies:
  • you were paid less than £153 per week on average when you were employed over the last 2 years
  • you’ve been claiming contribution-based JSA for over 182 days
  • you haven’t worked over the last 2 years
 
How you’re paid
 
Payments are usually made every 2 weeks.
 
All benefits, pensions and allowances are paid into an account, eg a bank account.
 
Your circumstances change
 
You must tell Jobcentre Plus if your circumstances change, eg you start working or your income changes. This might affect how much you get.
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