3. Eligibility

To get Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) you must:

  • be 18 or over but below State Pension age - there are some exceptions if you’re 16 or 17
  • not be in full-time education
  • be in England, Scotland or Wales
  • be available for work
  • be actively seeking work
  • work on average less than 16 hours per week

You must go to a JSA interview after you apply.

You can’t get JSA and Universal Credit at the same time.

Income-based JSA

If you have a household income of more than £6,000, it will affect how much JSA you get. Income includes money from pensions, earnings or savings.

To get income-based JSA:

  • you must work less than 16 hours per week on average
  • your partner (if you have one) must work less than 24 hours per week on average
  • you must have £16,000 or less in savings

Contribution-based JSA

You get contribution-based JSA if you have enough Class 1 National Insurance contributions (NICs) in the 2 tax years before the benefit year you’re claiming in.

Pensions and earnings can affect the amount of contribution-based JSA you get.

Use a benefits calculator to check your eligibility for JSA.


You may be able to get income-based JSA, tax credits or Employment and Support Allowance.

You can’t usually get contribution-based JSA.

16 to 17 year olds

Call or go to your local Jobcentre Plus to find out if you’re eligible.

18 to 19 year olds

You can’t usually get JSA if:

  • you’re in full-time education
  • your parents receive Child Benefit for you

You may be able to get Income Support. If you’ve just left education, you won’t be able to get JSA until your parents stop getting Child Benefit for you.


Full-time students

Full-time students can’t usually get JSA until their course has officially finished - check the date with your college or university. You may be able to claim JSA during the summer holiday if you have children.

Part-time students

You can get JSA while studying part time (including part-time Open University Courses) as long as:

  • you take a job if it’s offered to you
  • you do everything you can to look for work, as agreed with your work coach

If you want to take a short course (2 weeks or less), check with your work coach before you start.

New or recently returned to the UK

You may be able to get income-based JSA if you can prove you’ve been living in the UK, the Isle of Man, the Republic of Ireland or the Channel Islands for 3 months before you claim, and you’re either:

  • a UK national who’s recently returned from abroad and you haven’t worked since coming back
  • an EEA national