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Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)

Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) 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.

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-base Jobseekers Allowance is being replaced by Universal Credit.  Check if you can still qualify for Income-based Jobseekers Allowance by reading the 'Can I get Jobseekers Allowance?' page of this guide.

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

 

Updated: December 2018

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

Contribution-based / New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance.

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.  

Contribution-based Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) can be paid with Income-based Jobseekers Allowance if you qualify for both.  If you qualify for Universal Credit instead of Income-based JSA, 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 Jobseekers Allowance.

Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Please note that if you try to make a new claim for Income-based Jobseekers Allowance, you could instead be required to claim Universal Credit.  If you or your partner are receiving a 'legacy benefit' such as Child Tax Credit or Housing Benefit, you will lose these if you make a claim for Universal Credit.  

You can find out whether you can still claim Income-based Jobseekers Allowance by using our Benefits Calculator or by seeking advice.  You can find an advice agency in your area by using our Find-an-adviser tool.   Read more about Universal Credit. on our website.

You can still get Income-based Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) in one of the following situations:

In addition:

  • You and (your partner's) income is low enough, and
  • You and (your partner's) savings are capital are below £16000, 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 February 2019

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

Contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

Contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance is paid at  

  • £57.90 per week if you are under 25

  • £73.10 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 for you.

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.

  • If you have housing costs such as a mortgage.

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, Building Society or Post Office account or by Simple Payment 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 JSA sanctions information sheet

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 are able to 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 Job Seeker'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 Job Seeker's Allowance, Pension Credit or Universal Credit, in which case your Contribution-based Job Seeker'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.

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

It is no longer possible for most people to make new claims for income based Jobseeker's Allowance. You might be able to make a new claim for JobSeeker's Allowance if you are getting a Severe Disability Premium or are entitled to get it.

In England, Scotland or Wales

Claim online by going to the Gov.UK website (link opens in a new window), go down the page and click on "Claim JSA online"

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 (link opens in a new window)

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 normally also have to give your partner's national insurance number if they live with you. You also have to give evidence of your income and savings, for example, bank statements or pay slips.

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.

Postal Sign On

If you sign on for your Jobseeker's Allowance by post and experience difficulties with this  (for example, your postal declaration is not received and as a result your benefit is stopped ) you should immediately seek advice from an experienced benefits adviser . To find local advice providers in your area you can use our Find an Adviser tool.

Change of circumstances

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

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 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

Updated: March 2018