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 able and available for work
  • be actively seeking work
  • work on average less than 16 hours a week
  • go to a JSA interview

Also, to get income-based JSA you (and your partner if you have one):

  • must usually work less than 24 hours a week (on average)
  • must have £16,000 or less in savings

Use a benefits calculator to check your eligibility.

There are certain eligibility rules for lone parents who want to claim JSA.

The eligibility rules are different if you live in Northern Ireland.

Your income

Your household income can affect how much income-based JSA you get. Income includes money from savings (if you have more than £6,000), pensions and earnings.


You can’t usually get contribution-based JSA if you’re self-employed. You must have paid enough Class 1 National insurance, and self-employed people pay Class 2 or 4. You could get income-based JSA, tax credits or Employment and Support Allowance instead.

16 to 17 years olds

JSA isn’t usually paid to 16 or 17 year olds or people in full-time education, except in certain circumstances. Contact your local Jobcentre Plus for advice.

18 to 19 year olds

You usually can’t 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, wait until your Child Benefit ends before applying for JSA.

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.

You can usually do an Open University course or short course (2 weeks or less) without it affecting your JSA - tell Jobcentre Plus before you start.

Part-time students

You can get JSA while studying part-time if you can combine your course with a job, or are willing to give up your course for a job.

New or recently returned to the UK

To get income-based JSA you must prove that you’ve been living in the UK for 3 months before you claim if you’re:

  • a UK national who has recently returned from abroad and you haven’t worked since coming back to the UK
  • an EEA national and you haven’t worked since arriving in the UK

If you’re an EEA national who has worked or been self-employed in the UK since you arrived, you may have to provide:

  • evidence of your earnings
  • details of employment

You must go to a Jobcentre (usually every 2 weeks or when asked) to show how you’ve been searching for a job to keep getting JSA. This is known as ‘signing on’.

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