Are you looking for financial help during your job search?
Searching for a new job can be stressful at the best of times. But if you’re recently unemployed, the financial implications of trying to find the right opportunity can make things even harder.
However, there are a number of government initiatives which may help make things easier. Here’s a quick guide on how to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance.
What is Jobseeker’s Allowance?
Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) is a benefit paid to people who are currently unemployed or are employed on a low income and are actively seeking work.
How much can I claim?
How much you can claim varies depending on your individual circumstance and the type of Jobseeker’s Allowance you qualify for.
The minimum JSA amount is £57.35 a week whilst you look for work.
How does Jobseeker’s Allowance work?
There are two types of Jobseeker’s Allowance:
Contribution-based JSA is paid for up to 182 days (approximately six months) whilst you are job seeking.
For this type of JSA, your income or savings should not generally affect how much you receive.
General amounts are as follows:
- For those aged 16-24 the weekly amount is £57.35
- For those aged 25 or over the weekly amount is £72.40
You may be able to get income-based JSA after your 182 day contribution-based period expires.
Income-based JSA is means-tested, meaning your income and savings may affect how much you receive.
However, as a general guideline:
- For those single and aged under 25, the weekly amount is £57.35
- For those single and aged 25 or over the weekly amount is £72.40
- For couples (both aged 18 or over) the weekly amount is £113.70
- For a lone parent (18 or over) the weekly amount is £72.40
- For a lone parent (under 18) the weekly amount is £57.35
To find out how much you can claim based on your situation, and how JSA might affect other benefits payments, please visit GOV.UK’s Benefits Calculator.
How do couples apply?
You must apply as part of a couple if:
- You both want to claim JSA
- You are both over 18 years of age (but below State Pension age)
- Neither of you is responsible for a child
How do I qualify?
The following factors will usually affect whether you qualify or not:
- You will need to be 18 or over (but below State Pension age)
- You will not be in full-time education
- You will be able and available to work
- You will be actively seeking work
- You will work, on average, less than 16 hours per week
Also, to get income-based JSA you must:
- Work less than 24 hours a week (on average)
- Have less than £16,000 in savings
How often will I get paid JSA?
Payments are made every two weeks and are normally paid straight into your bank account.
How do I claim JSA?
You can claim JSA online, via telephone or through Jobcentre Plus.
However, bear in mind that you will need to attend an interview at your local Jobcentre to complete your claim.
What is a JSA ‘rapid reclaim’?
If you’ve claimed JSA within the last 26 weeks, you might be able to fill out a shorter application, also known as a ‘rapid reclaim’.
This may be the case if you were previously claiming JSA, then got a job for a short time, but are now unemployed again.
However, if your circumstances have changed since your last claim (e.g. you’ve moved house or got married), you may not be eligible for the same type of JSA as before. In this situation, you’d need to fill out a full application instead.
I’ve just finished University. Can I claim?
Yes. As long as you have finished higher education and are actively looking for work.
I’m 16. Can I claim JSA?
Generally you cannot claim JSA if you are under 18. However, there are some exceptions. Contact your nearest JobCentre Plus for more information.
Can I study for a course and still claim JSA?
Courses outside of full-time education, such as Open University courses or qualifications taken on a short-term basis, should not affect your JSA. However, always make sure you tell JobCentre Plus before you start.
I’ve recently returned from travelling. Can I claim JSA?
To qualify for income-based payments, you must prove that you’re a UK national who has not worked since returning from travelling, or an EEA national who hasn’t worked since arriving in the UK. You will also need to prove you’ve been living in the UK for three months before you can claim.
Does JSA affect Child Benefit or child tax credit?
JSA should not affect Child Benefit or child tax credits. Please contact your nearest Jobcentre Plus for more information.
What happens if my circumstances change?
To avoid potential problems, report any changes to Jobcentre Plus as soon as possible. Not doing so could result in allegations of benefit fraud or payment being withdrawn.
* Please note, the information outlined above is intended for general guidance purposes only, and is subject to change at any time. This article was first written in May 2014.
For more detailed information about jobseeker’s allowance, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/jobseekers-allowance.
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