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.

New-style Jobseeker’s Allowance

New-style JSA is for people who have paid enough National Insurance. This used to be called contribution-based JSA.

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

New-style JSA lasts for 6 months. After this, you may qualify for Universal Credit if your income and savings are below a certain level.

If you are eligible, you should apply for new-style JSA first. You may also be able to apply for Universal Credit if your income and savings are low. 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 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 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.

Employment and Support Allowance

Employment and Support Allowance is a benefit for people under retirement age who cannot work because of illness or disability.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a payment for people who are on a low income or out of for work.

Income Support

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

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.