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Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)

Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) is for people who are not in full time work, and can and want to work.

1. What is Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)?

Jobseeker's Allowance is a benefit for people who are not in full-time employment (work less than 16 hours per week), are capable of working and are looking for work.

If your working pattern varies or you need help to calculate how many hours you work, see our Working hours guide.

There are two types of Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-based and contribution-based. Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance is being replaced by Universal Credit. 

Applies to: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

Age rules: you must be under State Pension age and usually aged over 18 to qualify.

If you are aged 16/17 - see our section for Young People (aged 16/17) for information about claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance as a young person.

Type of benefit:

  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance is means tested

  • Contributory/New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance is non means tested

Taxable: Yes

Administered by: Jobcentre Plus

Reviewed: December 2021

2. Can I get Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)?

Contribution-based/New-style Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)

You can get this for up to six months if you have been working and have paid enough national insurance contributions within the last couple of years. It is paid just for you even if you have a partner.  

You can get contribution-based/New Style JSA at the same time as Universal Credit.  

A new claim for contribution-based JSA is also known as a new claim for New-style Jobseeker's Allowance.

Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)

It is no longer possible to make new claims for income-based Jobseeker's Allowance. It has been replaced by Universal Credit. If you or your partner are receiving a 'legacy benefit' such as Child Tax Credit or Housing Benefit, these will stop if you make a claim for Universal Credit.  

If you are already getting income-based JSA, you can carry on getting it until you stop meeting the qualifying conditions, unless you claim Universal Credit.

The qualifying conditions for getting income-based JSA are:

  • You and (your partner's) income is low enough, and
  • You and (your partner's) savings and capital are below £16,000, and
  • You are available for work and actively seeking work, and
  • You are under Pension age, and
  • You must not be working, or working fewer than 16 hours a week, and
  • If you have a partner, they must not be working or working fewer than 24 hours a week.

Updated: December 2021

3. How much Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) will I get?

New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance

New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance is paid at: 

  • £61.05 per week if you are under 25

  • £77.00 per week if you are 25 or over.

You may get less if you have part-time earnings or a personal/occupational pension.

Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

It is complicated to work out how much income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance you can get, so we suggest using the Turn2us Benefits Calculator, which can calculate your entitlement.

To calculate income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, your income is compared to an amount which the government considers you need to live on. This can vary from one person to another because it depends on your family circumstances. For example:

  • If you live alone or in a couple

  • If you or your dependants are disabled

  • If you're caring for someone who has a disability

  • If you have savings of over £6,000

  • If you have any other income.

Benefit Cap

Jobseeker's Allowance is included in the Benefit Cap which limits the total amount in some benefits that working-age people can receive. See our Benefit Cap guide for more details.

How will I be paid Jobseeker’s Allowance?

Jobseeker’s Allowance will be paid directly into your bank or building society account or through the Payment Exception Service if you are unable to open or manage one of these or a similar account.

Jobseeker’s Allowance is usually paid every two weeks.

Sanctions

There have been a number of changes to the rules about the conditions you have to meet in order to remain entitled to Jobseeker’s Allowance and the sanctions that can be imposed if you do not meet these conditions.

For more information, see our Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) sanctions information.

Please note: No sanction should be imposed if you can show good reason for your action that led to the sanction being considered. All decisions to apply a sanction can be appealed if you disagree.

Jobseeker’s Allowance and other benefits

Jobseeker’s Allowance counts as income when working out your entitlement to other benefits and tax credits.

Contribution-based Jobseeker's Allowance counts as income when working out entitlement to other benefits and tax credits, unless you are getting your benefit topped up by income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, Pension Credit or Universal Credit, in which case your contribution-based Jobseeker's Allowance is ignored for Housing Benefit purposes.

If you get income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance and are eligible for Housing Benefit, you are automatically entitled to get the maximum Housing Benefit for your circumstances.

Cold Weather Payment

If you get income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, you may also qualify for a Cold Weather Payment. You do not need to make a claim as the payment will be made automatically for each qualifying period of cold weather.

See our Cold Weather Payment guide for further details.

Updated: April 2022

4. How do I claim Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)?

It is no longer possible to make new claims for income-based Jobseeker's Allowance. 

New Style Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)

In England, Scotland or Wales

Claim online by going to the Jobseeker's Allowance page on the Gov.UK website, go down the page and click on "Make a claim for 'new style' JSA"

Or phone Jobcentre Plus to make a claim:

  • Telephone: 0800 055 6688

  • Textphone: 0800 023 4888

  • Welsh language Line: 0800 012 1888

In Northern Ireland

Contact your local Social Security/Jobs and Benefits Office for a claim form

What documents will I need to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance?

You must give your national insurance number and evidence of who you are, for example, a driving licence or birth certificate. You need to give details of the bank account you want your benefit paid into. If you are receiving or entitled to receive a pension, you need to give details of that pension.

When will my Jobseeker’s Allowance claim begin?

There is a 7-day period between claiming and being able to get Jobseeker’s Allowance. These are called waiting days. Exceptions apply.

A claim for Jobseeker's Allowance can be backdated for up to three months before the date of the claim if you would have been entitled to it earlier. You have to have an acceptable reason for claiming late. Request this when claiming.

Change of circumstances

You must report changes in circumstances which might affect your entitlement to this benefit.

Reviewed: December 2021

5. How do I challenge a Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) decision?

If you disagree with the decision made on your benefit claim, you can ask for a written statement of reasons. If you still believe the decision is wrong, for example due to incorrect information being used, you can ask for it to be looked at again.  This is called a mandatory reconsideration.  If you don't agree with the mandatory reconsideration decision, you can make an appeal to the Tribunal Service which is independent of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). See our Challenging Department for Work and Pensions Decisions guide for further information.

The time limits are strict. You will usually be given one month to dispute a decision, so it is important to seek advice and act quickly.

Further information on Challenges and complaints

Reviewed: December 2021