Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) is a benefit for people who are actively looking for work. The amount you will get depends on factors including your age, income and savings.

JSA based on National Insurance

Contribution-based JSA

You may get contribution-based JSA if you have paid enough Class 1 National Insurance (NI) contributions in the two tax years before the current benefit year. NI Credits can count for part of this. You can get contribution-based JSA even if your partner works or you have savings.

'New style' JSA

You can apply for ‘new style’ JSA if you live in a Universal Credit (UC) 'full service' area. If you live elsewhere, you can apply if:

  • you are already claiming UC. You can check if UC is available in your area at the GOV.UK website
  • you stopped getting UC in the past six months because of your income.

'New style' JSA works in the same way as contribution-based JSA and the amount you will be paid isn't affected by your partner’s income or your savings.

You can get new style JSA on its own or at the same time as UC, but any 'new style' JSA payments will be deducted from your UC payment - you can't get both and you aren’t guaranteed to get any extra money.

Income-based JSA

Income-based JSA is being  phased out by the Government and replaced with Universal Credit (UC). Your eligibility for income-based JSA will depend on your age and where you live.

You may get income-based JSA if:

  • you work on average less than 16 hours per week and
  • your partner (if you have one) works on average less than 24 hours per week and
  • you have no more than £16,000 in savings

You will need to be actively seeking and available for more work and any income that you earn over a small amount will be deducted from your benefit.

You can’t get income-based JSA and UC at the same time.

16-17 year olds

16-17 year-olds may be able to claim JSA in exceptional circumstances.

You may be able to make a claim if you have lost your job and can show that you’re experiencing extreme hardship.

If you don’t qualify for JSA, you may be able to get Income Support, although again this is only in certain circumstances.

18-19 year olds

You can’t usually get JSA if your parents receive Child Benefit for you.

If you’ve just left education, you won’t be able to claim JSA until your parents stop getting Child Benefit for you. You may be able to get Income Support instead.

How to make a claim

You can usually claim JSA online. If you want to get ‘new style’ JSA and you don’t live in a UC ‘full service’ area, you must claim by phone instead. Call Telephone 0800 328 9344 (Textphone 0800 328 1344) between 8am-6pm Monday-Friday.

After you've applied, Jobcentre Plus will contact you to arrange a JSA interview. You'll need to take a number of documents to prove your identity and provide other information so that Jobcentre Plus can make a decision on your claim. You can take someone with you to your JSA interview.

At your interview, you will sign an agreement - a 'Claimant Commitment' - about the steps you'll take to look for a job. Your JSA might be stopped if you don't do what you’ve agreed to in your Claimant Commitment and you can’t give a good reason.

You must contact Jobcentre Plus if your circumstances change or if you find a job and need to stop claiming JSA.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit (UC) is being phased in by the Government which will replace six existing benefits, including Jobseeker's Allowance, with a single payment. For information vist the GOV.UK website.