I’m having problems with my Jobseeker’s Allowance

Claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) always feels ten times more complicated than it should be. When will the money turn up? What age do I have to be to claim and what if my partner moves in with me? We answer the most common questions about JSA. 

job centre plus

Is there anyone that can help me?

Claiming benefits is often a frustrating process. Here are our recommendations for places to get help:

  • Your local Citizens Advice is the best place to get face-to-face advice and support. Remember to bring along details of your benefits and general financial situation.
  • For info on when and how to use the Jobcentre read this article.
  • If you’re angry or frustrated about your treatment by your Jobcentre or you feel you’ve been discriminated for any reason (including race, religion, gender and sexuality), you can complain.
  • Use this government benefits calculator to find out how much money you should be getting.
  • If you want to challenge a decision about your benefits, you can appeal.

Help! I haven’t got my money yet

If your money doesn’t arrive when you expect it, you should get in touch with your local Jobcentre as soon as possible. If your benefit has stopped because of something you’ve done (or haven’t done), then read our article here on JSA Sanctions.

I’m not 18 yet. Can I apply for JSA?

Unfortunately, 16-17 year-olds can only claim JSA in exceptional circumstances. We’d suggest getting advice from your local Citizens Advice or Jobcentre Plus.

If you don’t qualify for JSA, you may be able to get Income Support, although again only in certain circumstances.

What if I’m at college or uni?

You can’t usually get JSA if you are studying full-time. Although, if you’re a lone parent or part of a couple with responsibility for a child you may be able to claim during the summer holidays.

If you’re studying part-time you might be able to get JSA, but you’d have to be available for full-time work, and you’d be expected to quit your course if you get offered a job. You may be able to do an Open University course and still get JSA.

Can I claim if I’m working?

You can work part-time and claim JSA as long as it’s for less than 16 hours a week. You may receive less money in your JSA if you work part-time depending on how much you earn.

I got a job but then I lost it again

If you earn more in a week than you’d get paid in JSA, then your JSA claim will finish. But if you lose the work within 182 days, you can make a rapid reclaim for JSA online.

I live with my boyfriend/girlfriend

Your partner’s income or savings won’t affect your contribution-based JSA. However, if you’re on income-based JSA and your partner works 24 hours a week or more you probably won’t get income-based JSA. If you’re both out of work you can claim together as a couple if you’re living together.

Can I go on holiday?

When you’re on JSA, you’re entitled to two weeks’ holiday a year, but only in Great Britain. Let the Jobcentre know that you’re going away. You won’t need to sign on, but will need to be able to receive job information and come home for an interview or start a job at relatively short notice.

You aren’t usually allowed to take overseas holidays while claiming JSA. If you plan to go abroad, the best thing to do is to sign off just before you go and make a rapid reclaim online when you get back.

I don’t get on with my advisor

Some benefits advisors are great, some are not so great. But as they’re holding the purse strings, it’s worth trying to get along with them.

Remember, most of the things that are frustrating about claiming benefits and finding work won’t be up to your advisor, so try not to put too much blame on them.

I have a job interview but I’ve got no money

Don’t worry, you can get a loan from the Jobcentre to help with things like travel and smart clothes for interviews. These are called budgeting advances.

There just aren’t any jobs!

After 13 weeks on JSA, you may be required to go on a job scheme to help you get work experience. On some schemes, failure to take part could mean you lose some of your benefit.

For more information about job schemes – including voluntary schemes – read this Government Employment Schemes article.

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