Jobseeker’s Allowance

Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) is for people under State Pension age who are unemployed but able to work. It gives you a weekly income while you look for work.

Who can claim?

You can claim JSA if you are:

  • aged 18 or above (or aged 16 or 17 in certain cases)
  • not in full-time education
  • not working or working less than 16 hours a week on average
  • fit for work
  • available for work and actively looking for work.

In Northern Ireland, you cannot claim JSA if you are in certain types of education or receiving certain other benefits. Contact a welfare adviser for more information.

Contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

Contribution-based JSA is for people who have paid enough National Insurance. If you live in a Universal Credit area, this is called new style JSA.

Depending on your situation, you may also be entitled to other benefits such as help with council tax and Housing Benefit.

Contribution-based JSA lasts for 6 months. After this, you may qualify for income-based JSA if your income and savings are below a certain level.

If you are eligible, you should apply for contribution-based JSA first.

If you cannot get contribution-based JSA, you can check if you are eligible for Universal Credit. If you are, you will need to apply for that instead.

Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

Income-based JSA may be available if you are on a low income and are not eligible for contribution-based JSA or Universal Credit.

The amount you can get depends on your circumstances, including your income and savings, and those of your partner if you have one.

If you are eligible for income-based JSA, you may also get other benefits, such as free school meals and Housing Benefit.

If you work part-time

If you work less than 16 hours a week, the Jobcentre Plus will ignore some of the money you earn when it works out whether you are eligible for income-based JSA.

They will usually ignore:

  • £5 a week for single people
  • £10 a week for couples
  • £25 for single parents
  • £20 a week for some other people, for example carers or people who are severely disabled.

Advisers at your local Jobcentre Plus, or Northern Ireland Social Security or Jobs and Benefits office, will help you with your job search. If you need advice about work because of an illness or disability, ask to see a disability employment adviser.

How to claim

  • If you live in England, Scotland or Wales, you can apply online, by phone or through your local Jobcentre Plus. To find out more go to gov.uk/jobseekers-allowance/how-to-claim You will need to attend an interview with an adviser at your local Jobcentre Plus.
  • If you live in Northern Ireland, you can apply through your local Social Security or Jobs and Benefits office. You will need to attend an interview with an adviser at the office. You can find out more at nidirect.gov.uk/articles/jobseekers-allowance

Back to If you are unable to work or on a low income

Support from your work

You may be able to get financial help from the government if you are unable to work because of cancer.

Income Support

Income Support is a benefit that helps people on a low income pay basic living costs.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a payment for people who are on a low income or looking for work in England, Scotland and Wales.

Working Tax Credit

Working Tax Credit (WTC) is for people aged from 16 to retirement age who work but have a low income or disability.