Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) to help you when you look for work.

How it works, Eligibility, How to claim or reclaim, Your JSA interview, Your JSA claim, Report a change of circumstances

Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) to help you when you look for work.

How it works Jobseeker Allowance

You can apply for Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) to help you when you look for work.

This page is also available in Welsh (Cymraeg).

What you need to do

  1. Check you’re eligible.
  2. Make a claim and go to an interview at your local Jobcentre Plus office.
  3. Keep to your agreement to look for work.

Your JSA payments will be stopped if you do not keep to your agreement to look for work and cannot give a good reason.

Check if you’re eligible for Universal Credit. If you are, you could get Universal Credit at the same time or instead of ‘new style’ JSA.

What you’ll get

There’s a maximum amount you can get – but how much you’re entitled to depends on things like your age, income and savings.

Use a benefits calculator to check how much JSA you can get, and how your other benefits will be affected.

AgeJSA weekly amount
Up to 24up to £57.90
25 or overup to £73.10
Couples (both aged over 18)up to £114.85

How you’re paid

Payments are usually made every 2 weeks.

All benefits, pensions and allowances are usually paid into your bank, building society or credit union account.

Eligibility Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)

There are 3 different types of Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA):

  • ‘new style’ JSA
  • contribution-based JSA
  • income-based JSA

Which types you can get depends on your circumstances.

You can only apply for contribution-based and income-based JSA if you either:

  • get the severe disability premium, or are entitled to it
  • got or were entitled to the severe disability premium within the last month and are still eligible for it

If not, you can only apply for ‘new style’ JSA.

‘New style’ JSA

To be eligible for ‘new style’ JSA you’ll need to have worked as an employee and paid Class 1 National Insurance contributions, usually in the last 2 to 3 years. National Insurance credits can also count.

You will not be eligible if you were self-employed and only paid Class 2 National Insurance contributions, unless you were working as a share fisherman or a volunteer development worker.

You’ll also need to:

  • be 18 or over
  • be under the State Pension age
  • not be in full-time education
  • be available to work
  • not be working at the moment, or be working less than 16 hours per week on average
  • not have an illness or disability which stops you from working
  • live in England, Scotland or Wales
  • have the right to work in the UK

You’ll also need to show you’re looking for work to keep getting payments.

Your partner’s income and savings will not affect your claim.

You can get ‘new style’ JSA for up to 182 days (about 6 months). After this you can talk to your work coach about your options.

Check if you’re eligible for Universal Credit. If you are, you could get Universal Credit at the same time or instead of ‘new style’ JSA.

Contribution-based JSA

You can only apply for contribution-based JSA if you either:

  • get the severe disability premium, or are entitled to it
  • got or were entitled to the severe disability premium within the last month and are still eligible for it

To be eligible you will also need to have worked as an employee and paid Class 1 National Insurance contributions, usually in the last 2 to 3 years. National Insurance credits can also count.

You will not be eligible if you were self-employed and only paid Class 2 National Insurance contributions, unless you were working as a share fisherman or a volunteer development worker.

You’ll also need to:

  • be 18 or over
  • be under the State Pension age
  • not be in full-time education
  • be available to work
  • not be working at the moment, or be working less than 16 hours per week on average
  • not have an illness or disability which stops you from working
  • live in England, Scotland or Wales
  • have the right to work in the UK

You’ll also need to show you’re looking for work to keep getting payments.

Your partner’s income and savings will not affect your claim.

You can get contribution-based JSA for up to 182 days (about 6 months). After this you can talk to your work coach about your options.

Income-based JSA

Your employment in the last 2 to 3 years does not affect your eligibility.

You can only apply if you either:

  • get the severe disability premium, or are entitled to it
  • got or were entitled to the severe disability premium within the last month and are still eligible for it

You’ll also need to:

  • be 18 or over (there are some exceptions if you’re 16 or 17 – contact Jobcentre Plus for advice)
  • be under the State Pension age
  • not be in full-time education
  • be in England, Scotland or Wales
  • be available for work
  • not be working or be working on average less than 16 hours per week
  • not have an illness or disability which stops you from working
  • be single, or have a partner who works for less than 24 hours a week on average
  • have £16,000 or less in savings (including your partner’s savings)

You’ll also need to show you’re looking for work.

How to claim or reclaim

You can usually apply for Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) online.

You cannot apply online if you get the severe disability premium, or got it in the last month and are still eligible for it.

Apply now

If you cannot apply online, call Jobcentre Plus.

Jobcentre Plus
Telephone: 0800 055 6688
Textphone: 0800 023 4888
NGT text relay (if you cannot hear or speak on the phone): 18001 then 0800 055 6688
Welsh language: 0800 012 1888
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Find out about call charges

Check if you’re eligible for Universal Credit. If you are, you could get Universal Credit at the same time or instead of ‘new style’ JSA

After you make your claim

You’ll get a text or phone call within 2 working days to arrange a JSA interview at your local Jobcentre Plus office.

You will not get JSA if you do not go to the interview.

Claim with your partner (joint claim)

You must make a joint claim if:

  • neither you or your partner are responsible for a child
  • you’re applying for income-based JSA

Contact Jobcentre Plus if you’re not sure about making a joint claim.

If you disagree with a decision

You can challenge a decision about your claim. This is called asking for mandatory reconsideration.

Make a complaint

You can complain about Jobcentre Plus if you’re unhappy with the service you’ve received.

Your JSA interview

Jobcentre Plus will contact you to arrange your interview after you’ve applied.

You’ll need to bring all of the following:

  • your P45 (if you have one)
  • one ‘primary’ identity document
  • 2 ‘secondary’ identity documents – one to prove your address and the other to prove your date of birth

Primary identity documents

Examples include your:

  • current passport
  • driving licence
  • biometric residence permit
  • certificate of naturalisation as a British citizen
  • permanent residence card

Secondary identity documents

Examples of proof of your date of birth include your:

  • birth certificate
  • marriage certificate
  • NHS medical card

Examples of proof of your address include a recent:

  • utility bill
  • bank statement
  • Council Tax bill

You may need to bring in other documents based on the information you provide so that Jobcentre Plus can make a decision on your claim.

Support at your interview

You can take someone with you to your JSA interview.

Contact your Jobcentre Plus before the interview if you need support because of a disability or health condition (for example, if you’re deaf and need a sign language interpreter).

Sign an agreement to look for work (‘Claimant Commitment’)

At your JSA interview, you must sign an agreement about what steps you’ll take to look for a job. This is called a ‘Claimant Commitment’.

You and your work coach will agree what goes in your Claimant Commitment. This could include:

  • what you need to do to look for work – for example registering with recruitment agencies, writing a CV
  • how many hours you need to spend looking for work each week

What you agree to do will depend on things like:

  • your health
  • your responsibilities at home
  • how much help you need to get work or increase your income

Your JSA might be stopped if you do not do what you’ve agreed to in your Claimant Commitment and you cannot give a good reason.

Your JSA claim

After you claim JSA, a work coach will help you make a plan to find a job.

This will help you:

  • keep a record of what happened
  • prove to your work coach that you’ve been looking for work

Your work coach may tell you to take part in an employment programme, like the Work Programme.

You must tell Jobcentre Plus if your circumstances change, for example you start working or your income changes.

Reporting to a Jobcentre Plus office

You must go to a Jobcentre Plus office every 2 weeks (or when asked) to show how you’ve been looking for a job. This is known as ‘signing on’.

You must show your work coach what you’ve been doing to look for work, for example proof of job applications and interviews.

If you’re a victim of domestic abuse you might be able to get a break of up to 13 weeks from job seeking – speak to your work coach if you need this support.

When payment can be stopped

Your JSA payments will be stopped for a period if you do not do something your work coach or the Work Programme asks you to do. This is called being ‘sanctioned’. For example, if you:

  • do not accept or keep to your agreement to look for work
  • do not go to a Jobcentre Plus office when asked
  • turn down a job or training course
  • do not apply for any jobs you’re told about
  • do not take part in any interviews you’re invited to
  • do not go to any training booked for you or take part in employment schemes
  • leave your last job or training without good reason or because of your behaviour

Contact Jobcentre Plus as soon as possible if any of these apply to you. You may be able to keep your payment if you have good reason.

You’ll be told how long your payment will be stopped for. It could be between 4 weeks and 26 weeks (about 6 months).

Find out more about how long your JSA payment could be stopped for.

If your JSA payment is stopped

If your payment is stopped, you should keep looking for work. Your benefit payment could be stopped for longer if you do not.

If you disagree with the decision to stop payment, you can ask for the decision to be looked at again – this is called ‘mandatory reconsideration’. You can appeal to the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal if you think the decision in the mandatory reconsideration notice is wrong.

You should continue with any JSA claim until the dispute is settled.

If you claim Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction

You should contact your local council immediately. They’ll tell you what to do to continue getting support.

If your claim is ended

Your JSA claim may be ended if you’re not available for or actively seeking work. You can apply again straight away, but your payments will be stopped for a period of either:

  • 4 weeks if it’s the first time your claim has been ended
  • 13 weeks if a previous claim has been ended within the past year

Hardship payments

You may be able to get a hardship payment if your JSA payments have been stopped. You do not have to pay it back.

A hardship payment is a reduced amount (usually 60%) of your JSA.

Eligibility

You can get a hardship payment if you cannot pay for rent, heating, food or other basic needs for you or your child.

You must be 18 or over.

You’ll have to show that you’ve tried to find the money from somewhere else, such as borrowing from a friend or working extra hours.

How to claim

Speak to your Jobcentre Plus adviser or work coach to find out how to claim a hardship payment.

Jobcentre Plus
Telephone: 0800 169 0310
Textphone: 0800 169 0314
Welsh language: 0800 328 1744
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Find out about call charges

If you find a job

Contact Jobcentre Plus to end your JSA claim if you find a job.

Report a change of circumstances

You must tell Jobcentre Plus if your circumstances change, for example you start working or your income changes. This might affect how much you get.

Volunteering will not normally affect your JSA but you should report it before you start.

Your claim might be stopped or reduced if you do not report a change straight away.

A change of circumstance can include:

  • starting or stopping work, education, training or an apprenticeship
  • moving house
  • changing your name
  • people moving into or out of the place you live (for example your partner or a child)
  • changes to the benefits you or anyone else in your house gets
  • changes to your pension, savings, investments or property
  • changes to other money you get (for example student loans or grants, sick pay or money you get from a charity)
  • changing your doctor
  • any changes to your medical condition or disability
  • going into hospital or a care home or sheltered accommodation
  • going abroad for any length of time

Call the JSA helpline if you’re not sure whether you need to report a change.

You may be prosecuted or have to pay a £50 penalty if you give wrong or incomplete information, or do not report changes straight away.

How to report

You can report a change of circumstances by:

  • calling the JSA helpline
  • writing to the Jobcentre Plus office that pays your JSA – the address is on the letters you get about your JSA

JSA and new style JSA helpline
Telephone: 0800 169 0310
Textphone: 0800 169 0314
NGT text relay (if you cannot hear or speak on the phone): 18001 then 0800 169 0310
Welsh language: 0800 328 1744
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Find out about call charges

If you’re claiming Universal Credit as well as new style JSA, you must report changes to both services.

If you’ve been paid too much

If you do not report a change straight away or give wrong or incomplete information, you might be paid too much. If you are, you might have to pay some of the money back.