Everything you need to know about Jobseeker's Allowance

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If you want to know more about Jobseeker's Allowance, you've come to the right place. Jobseeker's Allowance, often known as JSA, is an unemployment benefit available to people looking for work. At present, it's claimed by approximately 89,000 people each year. Despite this number, it's common for people to have lots of questions about how to claim JSA and how much the payment is.

But the good news is JSA is simple enough to understand once you break it down. While we understand not having a job comes will all sorts of stress, JSA shouldn't be a part of that.

Whatever the reason for your interest, we've sought answers to your most-searched questions about JSA.

Btw, our careers section also covers everything from perfecting your CV to interview prep if that's something you're interested in. But without further adieu, here's Career Coach and Director of HR consultancy 10Eighty, Liz Sebag-Montefiore to explain all things JSA.

Who is eligible to claim Jobseeker's Allowance?

"In broad general terms you need to be 18 or over, have worked as an employee and paid Class 1 National Insurance contributions, usually in the last 2 to 3 years," begins Sebag-Montefiore.

As you might expect, you must live in the UK to claim JSA here. Additionally, you must be available to work. In other words, you're eligible if you're not in full-time education and not working. Or, if you are working, this must beless than 16 hours per week on average, the expert explains. If you have an illness or disability which stops you from working, you won't be eligible for this benefit, either.

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How much is Jobseeker's Allowance?

JSA is paid differently depending on your age. "If you are aged 24 or under you can get up to £71.70 per week, those aged 25 or over can get up to £90.50 per week.

"It is paid every 2 weeks but you won’t get anything for the first 7 days of your claim, so your first payment will be less than the payments that follow," says Sebag-Montefiore.

How can you apply for Jobseeker's Allowance?

"Applications to claim can be made online or by phone. You’ll attend a Jobseeker Interview, and be required to sign a contract with an advisor, the contract can be changed at one-to-one interviews," explains Sebag-Montefiore. "Failure to comply with the contract may result in sanctions and the withdrawal of benefits."

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How long can you be on Jobseeker's Allowance?

Sebag-Montefiore says you can get JSA for up to 182 days, which equates to just under six months. After this time, you can discuss your options with your work coach, the pro explains.

Are there two types of Jobseeker's Allowance?

If you're looking to apply for JSA, you might feel a tad confused by talk of another form of JSA. To explain, some people may still receive an old form of JSA based on income, but it is no longer available.

"If you are currently getting income-based JSA, you will get payments while you are eligible until your claim ends. Universal Credit has replaced any new applications to income-based JSA," Sebag-Montefiore explains.

The newer JSA (which we've been discussing here) works differently. According to the expert, "New style JSA is assessed on National Insurance contributions you have paid and or been credited within the previous two tax years."

But what about savings? "Your savings and partner’s income and savings won’t affect how much you’re paid. But if you get an Occupational Pension or part-time earnings, the amount of new style JSA may be reduced depending on the amount of pension/earnings," adds Sebag-Montefiore.

What else do I need to know about Jobseeker's Allowance?

We've covered the basics, but there are a few other points it's worthwhile mentioning when it comes to JSA.

"When you apply, you can ask for your claim to be backdated by up to three months if you were not able to claim sooner. While you receive JSA, you’ll need to take reasonable steps to look for work as agreed with the work coach assigned to you," Sebag-Montefiore points out.

"If you’re eligible you might be able to claim Universal Credit. If your circumstances change you must tell Jobcentre Plus, if, for example, you start working or your income changes.

"If you were self-employed then your class 2 National Insurance contributions don’t count for new-style Jobseeker’s Allowance, talk to Jobcentre Plus about your options."

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