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Applying for Job Seekers Allowance While You’re Looking for Work

Published: Friday 5th July 2019

If you become unemployed, you may be eligible to claim job seekers allowance (JSA). But before making an application it’s useful to research what’s involved when making a JSA claim. Here’s what you need to know…

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Types of job seeker allowance?

There are currently three types of job seekers allowance:

‘New style’ JSA – To be eligible for this, you’ll need to have been in work and have paid Class 1 national insurance contributions in the past two to three years (Class 2 contributions will not count). Under ‘new style’ JSA, your partner’s income will not affect your eligibility. ‘New style’ job seekers allowance can be claimed for up to 182 days.

Contribution-based JSA – Contribution-based JSA is payable for up to six months, but to claim you must be either receiving or entitled to the severe disability premium and have worked as an employee, paying Class 1 national insurance contributions in the past two to three years.

Income-based JSA – For income-based JSA, your employment record for the past three years is not taken into account. However, you must receive or be entitled to the severe disability premium. You must have less then £16,000 in savings and be working less than 16 hours per week. How much you get will depend on the means test, but if eligible, you can get up to £73.10 per week.

For all types of job seekers allowance, you must be aged between 18 (with some exceptions for 16 and 17-year-olds seeking Income-based JSA), below pensionable age and be actively seeking work.

It’s worth pointing out that if you do not qualify for any of these benefits, you may still be eligible for Universal Credit.

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Applying and preparing for your JSA interview

To start the process, you apply online. If your initial application is successful, you will get a text or phone call within two days to arrange a JSA interview at a job centre. You must attend an interview with a ‘work coach’ or you will not be eligible for jobseekers allowance. So if you miss your appointment for any reason, it’s important to call the job centre straightaway.

The aim of the interview is to create what’s known as a ‘job seekers agreement’. This includes details about the type of work you’re looking for and how you’ll find that work, so this is something you need to think about in advance. Think about the hours you’re available to work, how far you can travel and how much you need to earn.

If you have any concerns about things that might prevent you from getting work, it’s important to bring these up, as if you don’t stick to the terms of the agreement your jobseekers allowance could be reduced or stopped.

Job Centre Plus

Keep looking for work

One of the most crucial parts of the JSA interview is to demonstrate that you’re an active job seeker. One way of doing that is to show that you’ve been looking for work on Zoek or other online job sites. On Zoek, you can print out applications for jobs you’re pursuing to show your work coach.

For the first few weeks on jobseekers allowance, you can pursue jobs that really interest you, but after that, you will have to widen your job search to include jobs that perhaps aren’t your first choice.

Unemployment isn’t fun. No one wants to be on benefits for long, so make sure you regularly check in on Zoek to make sure you haven’t missed out on any fresh job opportunities. Remember, new jobs are added to our database every single day covering all industries and top locations such as Manchester, Leeds, Glasgow and London.

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