Jobseeker's Allowance or JSA is a benefit to help when you are looking for work. For example, you might be able to apply if your mental health condition does not prevent you from working or looking for work.
Universal Credit is replacing JSA, but you may apply for the New Style Jobseeker's Allowance.
What is 'New Style' Jobseeker's Allowance?
New Style Jobseeker's Allowance is similar to contribution-based Jobseeker's Allowance. However, contribution and income-based JSA are being replaced by Universal Credit (UC).
How do I know if I am eligible for 'new style' Jobseeker's Allowance?
To be eligible for 'New Style' Jobseeker’s Allowance, you need to:
- Not have an illness or disability which prevents you from working.
- Live in England (Scotland or Wales).
- Have the legal right to work in the UK.
- Previously worked as an employee.
- Be 18 or over.
- Have paid enough Class 1 National Insurance (NI) contributions, often in the past two to three years – the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) should be able to tell you this when you apply.
- Be under State Pension Age.
- Not be in full-time education.
- Not be working or be working less than 16 hours a week.
- Be available to work.
My mental health condition makes it harder for me to work. Can I still apply for New Style JSA?
If your mental health condition prevents you from working full time, you might still be able to apply for New Style JSA.
John was awarded 'New Style' JSA
John has bipolar disorder and does not currently receive any support benefits or sick pay. He is 35 years old and works as an office administrator for a high street bank.
John can manage his mental health condition 60 - 70% of the time with the help of medication and cognitive treatments. However, because John can manage his illness, he can sometimes work full-time hours (35 hours a week).
Over the past six months however, John works on average, less than 16 hours a week.
Based on this information, John is eligible to apply for 'new style' JSA, but he might also be entitled to other benefits, including Universal Credit.
If you are unsure about applying for 'new style' JSA, you should discuss your situation with a welfare benefits adviser.
My mental health condition prevents me from working at all. Can I apply for 'new style' JSA?
If your mental health condition prevents you from working entirely, you cannot apply for the 'new style' JSA.
You should be able to apply for other benefits instead. These can include Universal Credit (UC), New Style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Personal Independent Payment (PIP). You should speak to a welfare rights adviser who can help you find the right benefits for you.
What happens if I do not meet the NI contribution conditions of New Style JSA?
If you do not meet the National Insurance contribution conditions, you can apply for Universal Credit if you and/or your partner:
- have children or housings costs.
- you have capital including savings of less than £16000 between you.
It is important to note that the people living in your household can affect the amount of Universal Credit you are entitled to.
What happens after I make a claim.
The Department for Work and Pensions will send you a text if you have submitted your claim online. The DWP will then contact you in 10 days of submitting your claim.
What is a Claimant Commitment?
Similar to Universal Credit, if you are eligible for New Style JSA, you must sign a Claimant Commitment. This explains what work-related activities you must do to get JSA and explains what will happen if you do not do what you agreed to do.
You will get a work coach at the Jobcentre, who will make your claimant commitment with you either on the phone, or you could be invited to see your work coach at the Job Centre.
It would help if you thought about how your mental health affects you and how it may affect your availability for work. Then, you can ask for your claimant commitment to reflect your needs.
This may include pay, hours, and travel time if they are reasonable. In addition, you should include any mental health conditions in your claimant commitment.
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.
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
- Are a prisoner on temporary release.
Can I work and claim JSA?
Remember, you can claim JSA if you work less than 16 hours a week. However, part-time earnings and/or pension income can affect the amount of New-Style JSA the claimant is entitled to - or may even reduce their entitlement to nil.
Please speak with your Welfare Benefits adviser.
Will my JSA stop?
You will be able to claim 'new style' JSA for a maximum of 182 days as long as you meet the JSA criteria. There is no time limit for Universal Credit, and you will be allowed to claim it for as long as you meet the requirements.
- Welfare Benefits for Mental Health
- Personal Independence Payment
- Universal Credit
- Employment and Support Allowance
- Council tax: Exemptions and discounts
- Statutory Sick Pay
- Housing Benefit
- Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Working Tax Credits
- Support for Mortgage Interest
- Attendance Allowance
- Cold Weather Payment
- Income Support
- Incapacity Benefit
- Severe Disablement Allowance
- Social Fund