Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)

3. Eligibility

Use a benefits calculator to check if you can get Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) before you apply. You may need to claim Universal Credit instead.

You could get Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) if all of the following apply:

  • you’re 18 or over (there are some exceptions if you’re 16 or 17 - contact Jobcentre Plus for advice)
  • you’re under State Pension age
  • you’re not in full-time education
  • you’re in England, Scotland or Wales
  • you’re available for work
  • you’re actively seeking work
  • you work on average less than 16 hours per week

The rules are different in Northern Ireland.

You need to be eligible for Universal Credit to claim ‘new style’ JSA.

Claim with your partner (joint claim)

You must make a joint claim with your partner if all the following apply:

  • you both want to claim JSA
  • at least one of you is 18 or over
  • you’re both under State Pension age
  • neither of you are responsible for a child

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

If you live in Northern Ireland, contact your local Social Security or Jobs and Benefits Office.

18 to 19 year olds

You can’t usually get JSA if your parents receive Child Benefit for you.

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

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.

If you have children, you may be able to claim JSA during the summer holiday.

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 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 at least 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