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Jobseekers Allowance

Jobseeker's Allowance is a benefit available to people actively looking for employment

Jobseekers Allowance is often known as JSA, as we shall for the rest of this report. It is a benefit paid to people who are looking for work and who fit certain criteria.

Claiming JSA

There are several ways that you can claim JSA if you think you are eligible for it. You can order a claim form over the telephone, go into the Jobcentre Plus to collect a claim form or complete a claim on-line. You can go into the Jobcentre Plus to ask someone to help you fill in your claim form if you need to and you can ask for help filling it in over the telephone. You need to be perfectly sure that you have all the relevant information to hand if you are doing either of these things however, especially if you have an appointment to do this as the Jobcentre Plus. If you do not have all the information necessary you will need to make a new appointment which will result in delay of your claim being processed. If you are on the telephone you can at least ask them to hold the line whilst you look up the information but this is not an ideal situation as the telephone advisors are much in demand.

Claiming on-line is sometimes a much easier way to do it, especially if you are not sure that you have access to all the information necessary. You can pause with your claim application midway through and go back to it to complete it later on which is very convenient. When you claim on-line you will need at least 40 minutes of free time to do so, although if you have claimed before within the previous six months and your situation has not changed you may only need 15 minutes as most of the data will already be available.

When you wish to start a new claim you will need the usual information such as age, date of birth and address but you will also need your National Insurance number. If you do not have your National Insurance Number for any reason you can request a new one by telephoning the Jobcentre Plus on 0845 6000643, Monday to Friday between 8am and 6pm. Your claim will not be processed until it is actually submitted unlike other benefits who register the claim from the day you request the claim pack.

This means you need to get your claim in as quickly as possible so make sure you have a National Insurance number and then keep it and reference to it as safe as possible. You will also need to provide a contact telephone number so that the person who is overseeing your claim can contact you quickly if they need more information. You will need to provide information about yourself and your partner if you have one about your financial details, your employment or previous employment details and your education details so have all of these to hand no matter how you intend to complete your claim. If you have a p45 or a p60 from previous employment these can be helpful but you do not need to have either of them to make a claim.

If you are making a claim on-line you will be issued a user ID and a password and these will be the same no matter how many times you log in to work on your claim. Keep a note of the password and user ID somewhere safe because if you lose them you
may have to start all over again.

Do you Know if you are Eligible for JSA

To be able to claim JSA you need to fit certain criteria which are mostly based around your age and employment status. You need to be between 18 and State Pension age and live in England, Scotland or Wales. You do not just have to be unemployed you can also be working less than 16 hours a week, but you do have to be one or the other.

People that are in full time education cannot get JSA, in fact anyone for whom child benefit is also being paid is not eligible. Under 18’s can get JSA but only in very special circumstances, for example if you no longer live with your family and there is no way you could do, in cases of abuse, or estrangement. In this case you need to contact your local Jobcentre Plus as soon as possible to find out what help you can get.

What happens next?

If you submitted your claim on-line, you should get a telephone call very quickly inviting you to go to an interview at the Jobcentre Plus to discuss your claim. This should happen within 2 working days of your claim being submitted. By working days we mean any day other than a Saturday, Sunday or Bank Holiday Monday.

Whether you submitted your claim on-line, by post or in person you will still have to attend this interview. Here you will discuss all the steps you can take to get yourself into work, any training and support there is available and whether you are entitled to any benefits. They will help you work out if you are entitled to any other benefits as well as JSA, such as Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit or one of the Tax Credits. If you are entitled to any of these benefits they will also help you claim for them by either giving you the forms to fill out, helping you fill the forms out or telling you who you need to contact to obtain the relevant forms.

If you are entitled to JSA the amount you can get depends on your age and your living arrangements. A single person under the age of 25 is entitled to £56.25 per week, if they are over 25 they are entitled to £71.00 per week and couples who cohabit are entitled to £111.45 between them. Be sure to tell the advisor at your interview every piece of relevant information so that they can work out exactly what you are entitled to.