Jobseeker’s Allowance or JSA is a benefit you can claim if you are unemployed or working less than 16 hours per week, and you are available and looking for full time work.
JSA can be contribution-based (CB) or income-related (IR). You will get CB-JSA if you have paid enough National Insurance (NI) contributions in the two previous tax years and you can claim CB-JSA for up to six months.
If you do not meet the NI contribution conditions, you will have to apply for IR-JSA. This is means-tested, which means that any income and capital or savings worth £6,000 or more will affect the amount of benefit you get. You will not get any IR-JSA if you have capital or savings worth more than £16,000. People in your household can affect the amount of IR-ESA you are entitled to. It’s also worth noting that you will get help with prescription charges if you get IR-JSA.
If you do not meet the NI contribution conditions, you will have to apply for IR-JSA. This is means-tested, which means that any income and capital or savings worth £6,000 or more will affect the amount of benefit you get.
What is a claimant commitment?
When you apply for JSA, you have to sign a claimant commitment. This explains what work-related activities you have to do to get JSA and will explain what will happen if you do not do what you agreed to do.
You will get a work coach at the job centre, who will make your claimant commitment with you at a face-to-face meeting. You should think about how your mental health affects you and how it may affect you being available for work, and you can ask for your claimant commitment to suit your needs. This may include pay, hours and travel time as long as they are reasonable, and you should include any issues in your claimant commitment.
The Jobcentre Plus will ask you to go to a meeting to sign on every two weeks – this is when you have to show that you are doing what you agreed to do.
You can ask to speak to the Disability Employment Adviser (DEA) at your local Jobcentre Plus, as they could help you with your claim and job search.
Can I claim JSA?
You can claim JSA if you:
- Are over 18 and under pension age,
- Are available for full-time work,
- Are actively looking for work,
- Are not in full-time education,
- Agree to the claimant commitment, and
- Are in the UK.
You may have to claim Universal Credit instead of Job Seekers Allowance depending on your circumstances and where you live. Find out if you can claim JSA, or if you need to apply for universal credit instead.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) treat you as being unavailable for work if you:
- Get maternity allowance or statutory maternity pay,
- Are on paternity leave, shared parental or adoption leave, or
- A prisoner on temporary release.
Can I work and claim JSA?
You can claim JSA if you work less than 16 hours a week and the DWP will deduct any money you earn from your job from your JSA – they can ignore income of up to £5. This means the DWP will not take up to £5 of your earnings into account when they work out how much to pay you. Sometimes, you will be able to get up to £20 disregard, but this will depend on the type of job that you do. For IR-JSA, the amount that you get may also be affected if you have a partner and they work. You must be looking and available for full-time work.
Will my JSA stop?
You will be able to claim CB-JSA for up to six months as long as you meet the JSA criteria. There is no time limit for IR-JSA and you will be allowed to claim it for as long as you meet the JSA criteria.
- What you're entitled to
- Universal Credit
- Employment and Support Allowance
- Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income Support
- Incapacity Benefit
- Severe Disablement Allowance
- Statutory Sick Pay
- Working Tax Credits
- Personal Independence Payment
- Housing Benefit
- Support for Mortgage Interest
- Council Tax: Exemptions and support
- Social Fund
- Next steps