Denied Unemployment Benefits

Refused Jobseeker's Allowance

About Jobseekers Allowance (JSA)

Jobseekers allowance (JSA) is a UK government benefit that is offered to people that are unemployed but are able to work and also fulfil the eligibility requirements. The name of the benefits has changed over the years and can commonly be referred to as the dole, UB40, signing on, or simply unemployment benefit.

There are two types of JSA that are available. These are contributions based job seekers allowance and income based jobseekers allowance. Contributions based JSA is given when an applicant has a history of having paid national insurance (NI) contributions which is a consequence of having been employed in the past. Income based JSA is offered when an applicant has not past history of having made NI contributions. When you are assessed by the Jobcentre you will be offered either contributions based, income based or a combination of the two types based on your past work history. Each type is paid at a different rate.

Who qualifies for jobseekers allowance?

In order to qualify for income based or contribution based job seekers allowance you will need to be assessed by the Jobcentre and attend an interview at your local jobcentre. Provided that you are able to fulfil the following criteria it is likely that you will qualify for JSA payments.

You must:

  • Be over the age of 18 (but under state pension age) to qualify
  • You must be  a resident of England, Wales or Scotland
  • Not be in full time education
  • Be unemployed and actively seeking full time work (the jobcentre will want to see proof that you have been actively applying for work)
  • Go to the jobcentre every 2 weeks to show how you have been trying to get work. This is sometimes called “signing on”
  • You must usually be able to start work immediately
  • If you are single you could make a claim for JSA if you are working less than 16 hours per week. If you are in a couple and your partner does not work or works less than 24 hours per week you could make a claim
  • Have less than £16,000 in savings
  • You must attend an initial interview to assess the claim

How much and how often?

If your claim for JSA is accepted you will receive the following amounts.

Contribution based JSA

  • Age 16 to 24 you will receive £56.80 per week
  • Age 25 or over you will receive £71.70 per week

Please note that contribution based JSA is only paid for a maximum of 6 months (or 182 days). If you are still unemployed after this time you will start to receive income based JSA.

Income based JSA

  • Single person under the age of 25 will receive £56.80 per week
  • Single person aged 25 or over will get £71.70 per week
  • Couples who are both aged 18 or over will receive £112.55 per week
  • Lone parent who is aged 18 or over will get £71.70 per week
  • Lone parent who is under 18 years old will get £56.80 per week

Jobseekers allowance payments are usually paid every two weeks and they will be paid into a designated bank account.

Payments of JSA will be backdated to the date on which you initially applied and in some cases if you have a good reason as to why you applied late, you can sometimes have JSA payments backdated as far back as 3 months.

Reasons for having your JSA denied, stopped or reduced

Once you have been accepted for JSA it is vitally important that you continue to follow the JSA requirements because it is possible that the Jobcentre could reduce your payments for a period of time or stop them all together. These are called “sanctions” and there are three different levels of sanctions that could be set based on the severity of the case. They are lower level, intermediate level and higher level sanctions.

Lower level sanctions – A lower level sanction will be applied for a period of 4 to 13 weeks depending on the severity of what has happened. The jobcentre can decide to impose this sanction for the following reasons:

  • You have failed to produce information when requested
  • Failed to take part in an interview
  • Failed to carry out a jobseekers direction provided that it was reasonable after having taken into account your circumstances
  • Failure to take part in a work for your benefit scheme such as a Work Programme
  • You are subject to misconduct at a work scheme

Intermediate level sanctions – This level of sanction can last for the same amount of time as a lower level sanction (4 to 13 weeks) depending on the severity of the infraction. The typical reason for an intermediate level sanction is:

  • Lack of effort to actively seek work or the fact that you are not actively available to work

Higher level sanctions – Higher level sanctions are the highest level of sanctions and can seriously impact your ability to claim JSA. They can last for periods including 13 weeks, 26 weeks or 3 years. Common reasons for a higher level sanction to be applied include:

  • Failure to apply for a job that the Jobcentre have highlighted for you
  • Leaving a job voluntarily
  • Failure to take part in a Mandatory Work Activity scheme

If you are subject to a sanction, you are able to appeal against the decision if you deem it to be incorrect or unfair. For example, if the Jobcentre directed you to apply for a job and you didn’t do so, it would be unfair for the Jobcentre to penalise you in this situation if it is discovered that the job would entail 1.5 hours travel each way to get to the employer. Appeals can be made direct at Jobcentre Plus.

Applying for jobseekers allowance

Applications for JSA can be made online or over the phone, but you will also need to attend an interview at a local Jobcentre to have your claim accepted.

An application for jobseekers allowance can be made online at

Phone applications for JSA can be made by calling 0800 055 6688. The phone line is open Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm and calls from landlines are free of charge or up to 31p per minute from a mobile phone.

After having applied online or by phone, you will receive a notification within 2 working days to arrange an interview with a local Jobcentre and at this interview you will be assessed for JSA and given tips on how to find work and improve your employability.