Jobseeker's Allowance

All information correct from September 2019.

Jobseeker's Allowance, also known as JSA or signing on the dole, is an unemployment benefit for people out of work and are actively looking for a job. Despite the negative stigma that unfairly surrounds benefits, you should claim for Jobseeker's Allowance if you're unemployed and looking for work. Job searching can be a very stressful time, especially with regards to finances. So having a small amount of income is better than nothing - plus it is your right to claim for unemployment benefits. Jobseeker's Allowance is paid through taxes and comes under welfare. It's good to know that if ever you need a little help, you could claim JSA.

JSA Claim

There are three types of JSA claim, contribution-based JSA, income-based JSA and New Style JSA. The kind of Jobseeker's Allowance you get depends on your age, income, savings and circumstances.

To make a claim, you need to contact your local Jobcentre Plus. You will be invited to attend an interview as a part of the application process to claim unemployment benefits. During the interview, your career advisor will set out an agreement with you, also known as a Claimant Commitment. The document will set out the type of work you want and the steps you need to take to find a job. It is a contract. If you breach this contract, your benefits will be stopped or reduced.

In your Claimant Commitment, you may encounter these clauses. In some cases, you may only have one, but in others, you may have all four terms. You need to do these clauses and provide evidence that you have. The requirements are;

  • Work-focused interviews. You will be expected to attend meetings to discuss plans for returning to work and about your progress.


  • Work preparation. You will need to attend training courses that can boost your CV and gain some experience.


  • Work search. You are required to apply for work each week, and you need to provide evidence for this.


  • Work availability. To be ready and willing to take up any job offered to you.

If you're a couple and you're both claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, you will both have an individual Claimant Commitment. Your career advisor will decide which JSA claim you are entitled to depending on what your circumstances are.

Contribution-Based JSA

A contribution-based JSA is only available to you if you have a severe disability premium. You will also have had worked as an employee and paid Class 1 National Insurance in the last three years. You also need to meet these requirements:

  • Be over the age of 18
  • Be under the age of the state pension
  • You cannot be in full-time education
  • Be working 0 to 16 hours a week
  • Not have an illness or disability that stops you from working
  • You have the right to work in the UK

Contribution-based JSA payments last for up to 182 days. (That's about six months). This is usually the best kind of JSA to claim. Your savings, your capital and your partner's income (if applicable) won't affect your claim. You can also request this if you're not from the UK.

Income-Based JSA

Income-based JSA is very similar to contribution-based JSA; in both cases, you need to have a severe disability allowance. You will also need to meet these requirements:

  • Be over the age of 16
  • Be under the age of the state pension
  • You cannot be in full-time education
  • You must be available to work
  • You must be working 0 to 16 hours a week
  • You cannot have an illness or disability that stops you from working
  • Be single (or have a partner that works less than 24 hours a week)
  • Have £16,000 or less in savings (this includes your partner's savings)
  • You need to live in either England, Scotland or Wales (sorry Northern Ireland)

Income-based JSA has been replaced with Universal Credit for some people. If you're eligible for the Universal Credit, you won't be able to claim this type of Jobseeker's Allowance.

New Style JSA

New style JSA is a reformed benefit you may be entitled to in the UK. To be eligible for the new style JSA you need to have worked for at least three years and have contributed to the National Insurance Class 1. You also need to meet these additional requirements:

  • Be over the age of 16
  • Be under the age of the state pension
  • You cannot be in full-time education
  • You must be available to work
  • You must be working 0 to 16 hours a week
  • You cannot have an illness or disability that stops you from working
  • Have the right to work in the UK

New style JSA payments usually last for up to 182 days. It also doesn't matter what country you're from if you apply for this JSA.

How Much Do You Get On JSA

Depending on your circumstances, how much Jobseeker's Allowance you get will vary. You will receive payments every two weeks into your chosen bank account. We have listed the maximum amount you can get per week below.


Age Maximum JSA weekly amount
16-24 £57.90
25 and over £73.10
Couples ages 18 and over £114.85

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