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JSA complications

How live-in lovers, students, hardship provisions and under 18's can affect the Jobseeker's Allowance you receive.


To qualify for income-based JSA, you usually need to have less than £16,000 in savings. You'll get some payment but won't receive the full amount if you have savings over £6,000.

Under 18s

If you are aged 16 or 17 you are unlikely to have worked for long enough since reaching age 16 to pay enough NI contributions to get contribution-based JSA. You may be able to get income-based JSA for a short period in special circumstances. For example, if one of the following applies:

  • You are forced to live away from your parents and will suffer severe hardship if you do not get JSA
  • You are a member of a couple who are responsible for a child

Couples who live together

  • If you or your partner are not bringing up children, you may have to make a joint claim to get income-based JSA
  • If you have a partner who works an average of 24 hours a week or more you cannot usually get income-based JSA. However their work does not affect contribution-based JSA
  • You may be able to get extra money if you are buying your home and you may also get help with some other housing costs. If you are renting, you may get help through housing benefit

Hardship provision

You may be able to get a reduced amount of JSA under the hardship provision. You can do this if your JSA cannot be paid under the normal rules for any of the following reasons:

  • You are not available for work
  • You are not actively seeking work
  • You do not have a Jobseeker's Agreement
  • You leave your job voluntarily without good reason; you lose a job because of misconduct; or you turn down a job offer
  • There is a doubt about whether any of these apply to you
  • You must be able to show that you or someone in your household would suffer hardship if you do not receive any JSA

If you are in a vulnerable group and you qualify for a hardship payment, you will be paid the next time you would usually get your JSA. You are in a vulnerable group if you or your partner:

  • Are pregnant
  • Are looking after children
  • Are single and looking after a 16 or 17 year-old
  • Have a disability
  • Have a long-term physical medical condition
  • Are caring for someone who is long-term sick or disabled
  • Are a young person who has left local authority care in the last three years
  • Are aged 16 or 17, in some circumstances

If you are not in a vulnerable group you will have to wait at least two weeks until you become entitled to a hardship payment, and you will get the payment the next time you would usually get your JSA. This means it could be up to four weeks before you get a payment.

Studying and JSA

You can't usually get JSA if you are studying full-time, however there are some exceptions:

  • If both you and your partner are full-time students and one of you is responsible for a child, you may be able to get JSA during the summer holidays
  • If you are studying part-time, but are still available for and actively seeking work, you may be able to get JSA. This will also depend on the number of hours you study and your other circumstances
  • If you are aged 25 or over and have been unemployed for two years or more, you may be able to do a full-time employment-related course for up to a year and still get JSA
  • You may be able to do an Open University course and still get JSA

JSA sanctions and money not coming into your bank account

If you don't comply with your Jobseeker's agreement, you may have your JSA sanctioned for a number of weeks. Your local Job Centre should ideally tell you if you're losing your benefit and explain why, but you may find the money just doesn't come into your account.

If you find your JSA money has not come into your bank account, do the following:

  • Contact the Job Centre straight away to find our why it has not been paid.
  • If a sanction has been applied, ask why, and ask for information in writing.
  • Visit a local advice centre such as Citizens Advice Bureau as soon as possible.
  • If a sanction has been applied incorrectly, challenge it (your advice centre will help you).
  • If a sanction has been applied correctly, you local advice centre may still be able to help you access funds, food, and stop any further sanctions being applied to other benefits like Housing or Council Tax. They may be able to get the length of the sanction reduced.
  • You can also apply for a hardship payment if you can demonstrate you're suffering from hardship as a result of the sanctions.

Universal credit and changes to Jobseeker's Allowance

JSA is changing to become part of Universal Credit between October 2013 and 2017. Though the process will be gradual it makes sense to be prepared for the changes - find out more from our Universal Credit article.


Remember to tell your benefits advisor if your circumstances change - for example if you get a pay rise, new job or get married. If you don't you could face a £50 fine as well as having to pay back any extra benefit. See GOV.UK for more information.

Updated: 25/10/2013

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