Eligibility

There are 3 different types of Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA):

  • ‘new style’ JSA
  • contribution-based JSA
  • income-based JSA

Which types you can get depends on your circumstances and how many children you have.

You can usually only apply for contribution-based and income-based JSA if you either:

  • have 3 or more children
  • are getting the severe disability premium
  • got the severe disability premium within the last month and you’re still eligible for it

If not, you can only apply for ‘new style’ JSA.

If you received Universal Credit in the last 6 months and stopped getting it because your earnings increased, you can only claim ‘new style’ JSA. It does not matter how many children you have.

‘New style’ JSA

To apply for ‘new style’ JSA you’ll need to have worked as an employee and 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:

  • have no more than 2 children, or no children
  • 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 to 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

You’ll also need to show you’re looking for work to keep getting payments.

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.

Contribution-based JSA

To apply for contribution-based JSA you’ll need to have worked as an employee and 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 can only apply if you either:

  • have 3 or more children
  • get the severe disability premium
  • got the severe disability premium within the last month and you’re still eligible for it

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 to 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

You’ll also need to show you’re looking for work to keep getting payments.

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

You can get contribution-based JSA for up to 182 days (about 6 months). After this you can talk to your work coach about your options.

Income-based JSA

Your employment in the last 2 to 3 years does not affect your eligibility.

You can only apply if you either:

  • have 3 or more children
  • get the severe disability premium
  • got the severe disability premium within the last month and you’re still eligible for it

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 in England, Scotland or Wales
  • be available for work
  • not be working or be working on average less than 16 hours per week
  • not have an illness or disability which stops you from working
  • be single, or have a partner who works for less than 24 hours a week on average
  • have £16,000 or less in savings (including your partner’s savings) You’ll also need to show you’re looking for work.

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 at least 3 months before you claim, and you’re either:

  • a UK national who’s recently returned from abroad
  • an EEA national and you have the right to live in the UK, the Isle of Man, the Republic of Ireland or the Channel Islands

18 to 19 year olds

You cannot usually get JSA if your parents receive Child Benefit for you.

If you’ve just left education, you will not be able to get JSA until your parents stop getting Child Benefit for you.

Full-time students

If you’re studying for A level or an equivalent qualification, you cannot usually get JSA until you have stopped studying and your parents have stopped getting Child Benefit for you. Child Benefit payments stop after the last day of February, May, August or November (whichever comes first).

If you’re studying for a degree-level qualification and you have 3 or more children, you may be able to claim JSA during the summer holiday.

Part-time students

If you have 3 or more children, you may be able to 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