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Young People and benefits - Young people looking for work

If you are aged under 18 (or under 20 in some circumstances), there may be extra rules to meet to get benefits. If you cannot get benefits in your own right, someone else, such as a parent or guardian, may be able to claim amounts for you within the benefits they get.

Young people looking for work

If you are unemployed, you may qualify for Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) if you can show that you are available for and actively seeking work.

If you are under 18, you will probably not have paid sufficient national insurance contributions to qualify for contribution-based JSA, but you may qualify for income-based JSA if your income is low enough. However, in addition to satisfying the normal rules of entitlement you must also fall within one of the following groups:

  • You are one of a couple and you have a child who is aged under 16

  • You are within a 20-week period of having left education/training (and sometimes for up to eight weeks afterwards) and one of the following conditions applies

  • you are married/in a civil partnership. Your partner must either be aged over 18 or aged under 18 and satisfy certain conditions (Seek further advice from a benefits adviser if this applies to you.

You can use our Find an Adviser tool.

  • you are an orphan with no-one acting for you in place of your parent

  • you are living away from your parents and anyone acting in their place and certain other conditions apply (seek further advice)

  • You are within the first 13 weeks of being laid off or on short time work

  • You are waiting to be enlisted into the armed forces.

If you do not fall within any of the above groups, while you are under 18 you can only qualify for income-based JSA if you can show you are in ‘severe hardship’.

Remember that if you are a care leaver, you may not qualify for income-based JSA at all, even if you would otherwise meet the entitlement conditions.

For all types of JSA, if you are claiming while you are under 18 you will normally have to register for work and training in order to be eligible.

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