What is Job Seekers Allowance and how to claim


People who are unemployed may be able to claim Job Seekers allowance. This article should help with the basics of claiming.

Job seekers is a state aid to help people who are unemployed or low income who are looking for work. Dependant on national insurance contributions, people claiming job seekers allowance (JSA) will receive non means tested contribution, means tested (New style). The local job centre will determine which category the job seeker sits in.

New Style JSA

A job seeker is eligible for new style JSA if they have paid enough National Insurance contributions over the last 2 previous tax years. This can be claimed if the job seeker is low income and has a partner, has a disability or caring for a person with a disability.

This can be claimed for 6 months, after which the job seeker will be switched to another type of JSA.

This JSA can be reduced by pensions or secondary incomes.

Income Based JSA

If a job seeker has not made enough contributions over the last 2 years and is of low or no income, they may be eligible for income based JSA. In large parts this has been replaced by universal credit.

This type of JSA is dependent on circumstances and will be affected by savings and secondary incomes.


To be eligible

  • Aged over 18 (in special circumstances those 16-17 may be eligible)
  • Not claiming pension
  • Not in full time education
  • Living in England, Scotland or Wales
  • Be available to work
  • Working less than 16 hours a week

Those self employed may struggle to claim New Style JSA but should be eligible for Income based.

Use a benefits calculator to determine what you are eligible for

How to claim

The updated guidance is to register online 

Traditionally this would have resulted in a face to face interview, however due to the influx of applications during Covid 19 will now be done electronically.

During this meeting the job seekers will be assigned an advisor, who will create a plan of action to get the seeker back to work. This will be sone through a number of means, training, cv writing and preparing for interviews.

All information will be recorded and the advisor will provide a date for the first payment to go into the job seekers bank account.

To continue to receive JSA, payment can be frozen for 13 weeks if

An interview with an advisor is missed
Fail to improve skills
Fail to apply or accept a role which has been recommended
Loose place in training or employment due to misconduct

It can be frozen for 3 years if

You don’t apply for a job the advisor tells you about
Don’t accept a suitable job
Leave a job voluntarily
Don’t take a compulsory work related program