How to claim jobseeker benefits in the UK

ON November 14, 2018

If you’ve found yourself in a difficult work situation, like being made redundant, don’t despair. Jobseeker’s allowance is nothing to be ashamed of–it’s a benefit the UK government has put in place to support you whilst you actively search for a new job or different career.

What is Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)?

Jobseeker’s Allowance is a benefit to help people that aren’t in full-time employment and are actively looking for work. It is part of the social security benefits system to help people whilst unemployed.

There are two types of Jobseeker’s Allowance: contribution-based and income-based. Both are used for different circumstances.

Contribution-based JSA

This entitlement is based on Class 1 National Insurance contributions in the two complete tax years preceding the year you make your claim. The allowance is given to an individual even if you have a savings account or your partner works. If you’ve never worked before, you can’t receive the benefits of this allowance.

Income-based JSA

This allowance is for individuals with low incomes who work an average of fewer than 16 hours per week, or a partner who works less than 24 hours per week. You may also receive the allowance if both you and your partner have a combined £16,000 or less in savings. If you have never been employed, you can only apply for income-based JSA, though you won’t be able to simultaneously receive Universal Credit.

What allowance can I get?

You can receive a fortnightly allowance, but the maximum amount of entitlement depends on your age, income and savings. GOV.uk has benefit calculators to help assess your entitlement. You can also use the following:

The table below indicates what you could receive based on your age.

jobseeker benefits UK

What do I need to do to get Job Seeker Allowance?

  1. Check your eligibility
  2. Make a claim
  3. Attend an interview at your local Jobcentre Plus office
  4. Maintain your agreement to look for work

How to check your eligibility

To receive Jobseeker’s Allowance you have to apply to the following:

  •  You are 18 or over (There are some exceptions if you are younger, but you will need to contact your local job centre for information)
  •  You are under the state pension age
  •  If you are currently not in full-time education
  •  Live in England, Scotland or Wales
  •  If you are available to work
  •  You are actively looking for work
  •  You work less than 16 hours per week on average
  •  If you have a partner, they work less than 24 hours a week on average
  •  You have signed a Claimant Commitment agreement to look for work
  •  You don’t have an illness or disability which stops you from working

Some of those criteria may not apply in the following situations:

  •  You are aged 18-19 and your parents receive Child Benefit
  •  If you’re studying for A-level or an equivalent qualification, you can’t receive JSA until you have stopped studying and your parents have stopped getting Child Benefit for you
  •  You are studying for a degree-level qualification.
  •  If you can’t prove you have been living in the UK, the Isle of Man, the Republic of Ireland or the Channel Islands for at least 3 months before you makes your claim.

How to claim for JSA

You can easily apply online at the Jobseeker’s Allowance page. Simply click on the link and answer the required information on each page.

On the other hand, if you want to receive the ‘new style’ JSA and you don’t live in a Universal Credit ‘full service’ area, you can claim over the phone instead.

After completing this step, you will be contacted within 2 working days to arrange an initial interview at a local Jobcentre. The interview is mandatory and you must attend but remember—there’s no need to feel nervous, embarrassed or judged.

What to bring and what to aspect from a Job Centre Plus interview

On the day of the arranged interview, you will need to bring the following documents for security and identification purposes:

  •  P45 document (if you have one)
  •  National Insurance number
  •  1 primary identity document (like a passport or driver’s license)
  •  2 secondary identity documents: one stating your address (like a bank statement) and one stating your date of birth (like a birth certificate)

You are allowed to bring someone along for support, and if you need support because of a disability or health condition, then contact the Jobcentre beforehand so they can make arrangements.

Ultimately, the interview is set up for you to sign a ‘Claimant Commitment’, which is an agreement on taking steps to find and secure a job. Commitments will depend on your agreements with your job coach, such as the number of hours you will spend each week searching for a job. Your commitments will also depend on factors like health, home responsibilities and how much help you will need.

* Most of the information stated in this blog is from the official UK GOV website and was collected in August 2018.

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