Are You Entitled to Jobseekers Allowance? in Working

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Are you unemployed and looking for work? Jobseeker’s Allowance may be able to give you financial support while you are looking.

What is it?

Jobseeker’s Allowance is the main benefit for people who are out of work and are looking for work. There are two different types of Jobseeker’s Allowance: 

  1. Contribution based JSA – This is based on how much National Insurance you have paid in the last two years.  
  2. Income based JSA – This is based on your income and savings.


The Jobcentre Plus will help you work out which type of Jobseeker’s Allowance to apply for. If you are aged 16-24 you will be given £56.80 per week, and if you over 25 you will receive £71.70.

What are the rules?

  • You must be able to work for at least 40 hours a week
  • You must be actively looking for work
  • You must be over 18 and under state pension age
  • You will usually be working less than 24 hours per week on average, depending on how much you earn.
  • You have savings less than £16,000
  • You live in Great Britain
  • You will need to go to an interview to complete your claim.

To get Jobseeker’s Allowance you have to be actively looking for work, be available to start work and have a current Jobseeker’s Agreement. Once entered into an agreement, you will need to attend your local Jobcentre (normally every two weeks) to show you've been searching for a job. This is commonly known as 'signing on'.

Normally you can't claim Jobseeker’s Allowance if you are under 18.  However, under special circumstances if you are 16 or 17, not in full-time education, and living away from your parents they may consider you. 

There are different rules for JSA if you are living with a partner. You will need to make a joint claim which takes both you and your partner's circumstances into account. 

How can I apply?

You can apply over the phone. in person or over the telephone. 

  • To apply online visit the Direct Gov website.
  • You can also apply over the phone by calling the Jobcentre Plus on 0800 055 6688 Mon – Fri 8am – 6pm, (textphone 0800 023 4888).  A customer service advisor will help you complete your application.

Can I get JSA if I am studying? 

You can’t usually get JSA if you are studying full time. However there are some exceptions to the rule:  

  • If you are studying part-time but are still actively seeking and are available for work you might be eligible for JSA. This will depend on your individual situation and how many per week hours you study.
  • If you are aged 25 or over and have been unemployed for two or more years, you may be able to do a full-time employment-related qualifying course for up to a year and still get JSA.
  • You may be able to do an Open University course and still get JSA.
  • If both you and your partner are full-time students and one of you is responsible for a child, you may be able to get JSA in the holidays.

Can I get JSA if I volunteer?

  • Volunteering should not affect your right to Jobseeker’s Allowance as long as it is unpaid and the only money you receive is for volunteer expenses, such as travel costs.
  • You can volunteer as many hours a week as you want as long as you are still actively seeking work, available for work and interviews and can take up paid work in one week’s notice.
  • If you are receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance, always check with your benefits adviser before you start volunteering.

Universal Credit 

This is a benefit for both for working people and people who are looking for work. It will replace the current benefits Income Support, Income-based jobseeker’s allowance, Income-related employment and support allowance, Housing benefit, Child Tax Credits and Working Tax Credits. It will also eventually replace Jobseekers Allowance.

For more information on Jobseekers Allowance visit the Gov.uk website for further details.