Job Seekers Allowance
Would you qualify?
You can't claim job seeker's allowance after you reach pensionable age. However, this is a moving target at the moment. Between 2019 and 2020 it will increase to age 66, and there are plans to increase it further to age 67. This means that a lot of people in their 60s will still be eligible to claim it, so this page will be relevant to them. Those who are currently eligible for the state pension can safely skip it! Since the whole system is now far more complex than it used to be, this will no doubt come as a relief to many people.
What is it?
The job seekers allowance covers those in England, Scotland or Wales who are over 18, not in full-time education, not currently employed, or working less than 16 hours a week, but are looking for work. The maximum compensation is £73.90 for a single person, or for a couple it might be as high as £114.85 a week. There are different types of job seekers allowance, vis:
Income based JSA
Under the income based job seekers allowance, you will only get the allowance if you have a low income. If you have a partner, then he or she should either not be working or working less than 24 hours a week. Aside from your partner, you also should be working less than 16 hours a week and have less than £16,000 in savings. This allowance varies depending on the housing costs, savings and other circumstances.
It is calculated by making comparison between what you earn and what the government considers to be enough for you to live on. You are also not eligible for an income based JSA and a Universal Credit at the same time.
Contribution based JSA
The contribution based job seekers allowance is not means tested but is based on the national insurance contributions you have made. It is usually received from the first six months of being unemployed if you have paid enough National insurance contributions. The rules are complex and it may be best to ring the Department of Work and Pensions helpline on 0800 055 6688 if you have any doubts about your entitlements.
New style JSA
The new style job seeker allowance works pretty much the same way as the contribution based job seeking allowance. The main difference is that it is available for those who are eligible for the universal credit. It is currently applicable to single people living in Scotland, Wales and England, although in some areas it can be claimed by families too (yes, it can get complicated).Although you are able to get the new style JSA together with the Universal credit, deductions will be made from your Universal credit payment. The maximum payment is currently up to £73.10, it is only available for up to 180 days and you can only claim it if you've been credited with, or have paid for, sufficient National Insurance Contributions.
What used to be a simple (but much abused) system is now far more complex. There is a helpline at 0800 055 6688 (if you can get through), the staff at your local Job Centre should be able to assist, but for impartial help your local Citizens Advice Centre may be your best bet. You can find the nearest one to you at https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/
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