To be eligible for ‘new style’ Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) you’ll need to have both:

  • worked as an employee
  • paid Class 1 National Insurance contributions, usually in the last 2 to 3 years (National Insurance credits can also count)

You will not be eligible if you were self-employed and only paid Class 2 National Insurance contributions, unless you were working as a share fisherman or a volunteer development worker.

You’ll also need to:

  • be 18 or over (there are some exceptions if you’re 16 or 17 - contact Jobcentre Plus for advice)
  • be under the State Pension age
  • not be in full-time education
  • be available for work
  • not be working at the moment, or be working less than 16 hours per week on average
  • not have an illness or disability which stops you from working
  • live in England, Scotland or Wales
  • have the right to work in the UK

While you receive JSA, you’ll need to take reasonable steps to look for work as agreed with your work coach. You must still follow the guidance on working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19).

Your savings and your partner’s income and savings will not affect your claim.

You can get ‘new style’ JSA for up to 182 days (about 6 months). After this you can talk to your work coach about your options.

Check if you’re eligible for Universal Credit. If you are, you could get Universal Credit at the same time or instead of ‘new style’ JSA.

If you cannot work because of COVID-19

You can claim JSA if you cannot work but you’re still getting paid by your employer (‘on furlough’) or through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

Both of the following must also apply:

  • you usually work less than 16 hours a week
  • you meet the other eligibility requirements for JSA