How to Claim Jobseeker's Allowance

Anyone who has been out of work for any length of time knows how stressful it can be, especially if there are bills that need to be paid. 

Fortunately, there is some help on offer from the Government in the form of Jobseeker's Allowance.

Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) provides some financial support to claimants while they look for work. Coupled with the help of Jobcentre Plus staff, the claimant will hopefully be able to find suitable work quickly.

So, depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible to claim one of the two forms of JSA, namely:

- contribution-based JSA
- income-based JSA

How Do I Qualify?

In order to qualify for JSA you need to be:

- over 18 but under pension age (although some 16 and 17 year olds can qualify)
- not in full-time education
- resident in England, Scotland or Wales
- ready and able to work
- actively involved in seeking employment
- working less than 16 hours a week on average
- available to attend a Jobseeker's Allowance interview

Since there are two types of JSA, the one you ultimately qualify for (if that proves to be the case) will rest on other factors such as whether you are self-employed, your level of Class 1 National Insurance contributions, your savings and household income, how long you've been living in the UK and some other eligibility criteria.

You will be able to discuss your specific circumstances with members of staff at your local Jobcentre Plus office and they will decide which allowance you qualify for.

How Much Will I Receive?

If you qualify for one of the two types of JSA, you will receive the following:

- Contribution-based JSA is currently (2014/2015) £57.35 per week for those aged 16-24, and £72.40 per week for those over 24

This is paid for a maximum of 182 days. Afterwards, it may be possible to claim income-based JSA.

- Income-based JSA is currently £57.35 per week for single, under 25s; £72.40 per week for single, 25s and over; £113.70 per week for over 18 couples; £72.49 per week for lone parents over 18 and £57.35 per week for under 18 lone parents.

JSA is paid every 2 weeks into your nominated bank account. 

How Do I Apply?

If you have all the relevant details at hand, you can apply for JSA online.

If you have claimed JSA in the last 182 days then you can take the rapid application route by following the same link above.

Alternatively you can contact your local Jobcentre Plus on the following numbers:

Telephone: 0800 055 6688 
Welsh language: 0800 012 1888 
Textphone: 0800 023 4888
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Before your claim is finalised, you will need to attend an interview at your local Jobcentre Plus. 

At the interview you will discuss ways in which you can improve your working skills and chances of getting employment. This discussion will form the basis of your 'Jobseeker's Agreement'. You will be expected to follow this agreement during your search for work - if you fail to meet the requirements of the agreement your payments may be stopped.

Hopefully you won't need to claim JSA for too long. Remember to check Career Addict regularly and try and keep positive during your job search. That perfect job could be just round the corner!

Photo by J J Ellison (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons