Jobseeker’s Allowance

Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) is for people under retirement 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 all of the following:

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

Contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

Contribution-based JSA is for people who have paid enough National Insurance. You may not have paid enough National Insurance if you were self-employed.

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

Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

Income-based JSA may be available if you are on a low income. It is gradually being replaced by Universal Credit. If you are eligible, you should apply for contribution-based JSA first.

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

Income-based JSA acts as a passport to 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
  • £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 through your local Jobcentre Plus. Check your phone book or online for their contact details. You may also be able to apply online at 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

Back to Working age benefits

Universal Credit

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