Can I claim Job Seekers Allowance?

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Can I claim Job Seekers Allowance?
Jobseeker's Allowance was intriduced by a Conservative British government in 1996. (Getty Thinkstock)

Jobseeker's Allowance is an unemployment benefit paid to people in the United Kingdom who are looking for work or who do not work many hours a week. It is intended to cover living expenses and is administered by Jobcentre Plus. Paid every two weeks straight into a person's bank account, as of 2012 it ranges from £51.85 to £64.45 per week for an individual, depending on the types of allowance he qualifies for and his financial circumstances. There are several criteria that an individual must fulfil to obtain Jobseeker's Allowance.

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Two types

There are two types of Jobseeker's Allowance. Contributions-based Jobseeker's Allowance is paid to individuals who have, during their working life, paid sufficient National Insurance -- a tax that also goes toward a state pension -- contributions. It is paid regardless of financial circumstances. Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance is for those who do not qualify for the contributions-based allowance, and is a means-tested benefit. An individual with £16,000 or more in savings will not qualify and any savings over £6,000 will affect the amount an individual receives.


Both types of Jobseeker's Allowance are available to individuals who are aged 18 years or over but who have not reached the national retirement age. As of 2012, the retirement age for men was 65 years and that for women was 60 years. Those over retirement age qualify for a state pension rather than Jobseeker's Allowance. The benefit is occasionally paid to individuals aged 16 or 17 years, but only in cases of extreme hardship as a result of estrangement from family, or if they are a lone parent. Usually, 16- or 17 years-olds in need of assistance qualify for another benefit, Income Support.


To claim Jobseeker's Allowance, an individual must usually be resident in the United Kingdom. This is partly because attendance at a twice-monthly meeting with a Jobcentre Plus adviser is compulsory to receive the benefit. An individual may receive contributions-based Jobseeker's Allowance through the state provision system in a country in the European Economic Area, with which the UK has a reciprocal arrangement. In this case, a claimant must be entitled to Jobseeker's Allowance right up to the day of departure, have registered for a minimum of four weeks before, are seeking employment abroad and register with the destination country's benefits agency upon arrival.


To qualify for either type of Jobseeker's Allowance an individual must be physically able to work and actively seeking employment. Claimants are asked to supply evidence of their job search during meetings with a Jobcentre Plus adviser. Individuals who do not meet this criteria -- who are, for instance, caring for young children or an elderly, infirm relative, or are physically unable to work -- may qualify for other benefits such as Income Support or incapacity benefit.


An individual can claim Jobseeker's Allowance even she is working. However, to be eligible, she must not work more than 16 hours per week on average. Payslips detailing the hours worked and the compensation received for it will be required by your Jobcentre Plus adviser during your twice-monthly meeting.

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