Am I Entitled to Jobseekers Allowance?

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Jobseeker's Allowance is a financial benefit paid to the unemployed or those on a low income by the Department for Work and Pensions in the U.K. government. There are two types: contributions-based Jobseeker's Allowance is available if an individual has paid in enough National Insurance contributions (National Insurance is a tax on income paid while employed); income-based Jobseeker's Allowance is based on the amount of income and savings you hold. In both cases, you will be assessed on certain criteria to see whether you are eligible for the benefit.

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Age

Both types of Jobseeker's Allowance have the same age restrictions. You must be 18 years or over but below sate state pension age. As of 2011, the state pension ages are 65 years for men and 60 years for women, although these ages are expected to rise in coming years. An individual age 16 or 17 is unlikely to receive Jobseeker's Allowance, except in very exceptional circumstances such as complete estrangement from all family members. An individual of this age should contact her local Jobcentre Plus, as she may be entitled to other benefits, such as income support.

Location

To receive either type of Jobseeker's Allowance, you must live, or live for the majority of time for tax purposes, in the United Kingdom. You are not able to claim income-based Jobseeker's Allowance if you move abroad, however temporary the move is. You may be eligible for contribution-based Jobseeker's Allowance if the move fulfils certain criteria: it is a temporary relocation to a country inside the European Economic Area; you are entitled to benefits until you leave and have registered a minimum of four weeks before departure; you are looking for employment abroad; and you register with the country's equivalent unemployment agency.

Working

Most people apply for Jobseeker's Allowance because they are unemployed. However, you may be eligible even if you are doing some paid work. You must not work, on average, more than 16 hours in paid employment each week to claim Jobseeker's Allowance. Jobcentre Plus will also take into account the income entering your household -- that earned by a wife or husband, for instance -- when determining eligibility.

Availability

For either type of Jobseeker's Allowance, you must be available for work, capable of working and actively seeking work. If circumstances prevent you from fulfilling these criteria -- such as incapacity, illness, looking after young children, caring for a disabled relative -- you cannot claim Jobseeker's Allowance but may be eligible for other benefits, such as income support. To claim Jobseeker's Allowance, you are required to visit your local Jobcentre Plus and show evidence of your job search during the previous two weeks. You may also be required to attend courses arranged by Jobcentre Plus to enhance your employability.

Savings

Contributions-based Jobseeker's Allowance is available to anyone who meets the aforementioned criteria and has paid enough National Insurance. Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance takes into account the assets you hold as well. Assets of £10,400 or more make you ineligible for this benefit, while any assets over £3,900 may affect the amount of Jobseeker's Allowance received. You will be asked to supply evidence of their bank accounts and savings when applying for Jobseeker's Allowance.

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