A guide to claiming unemployment benefit

Finding yourself out of work whether through redundancy, misfortune or any another reason can be a stressful and difficult time both personally and financially. Therefore it is good to know firstly if you're likely to be entitled to any benefits, and if so, how you go about claiming unemployment benefit.

Criteria for claiming unemployment benefit

If you are unemployed or have recently been made redundant then you could be eligible for claiming unemployment benefit. To claim you have to be over 18 years-old and under state pension age, plus actively looking for work and applying for jobs. You can also claim if you are working less than 16 hours per week.

Types of unemployment benefit available

There are two types of allowance available. The first is Contribution-based Job Seeker's Allowance (JSA), which is dependant upon the amount of National Insurance you've paid in the previous two years. Usually contributions as a self-employed person won't count.

The second option is Income-Based Job Seeker's Allowance, which is tied in with your income and savings. You might be entitled to this if it's calculated that you've not paid enough National Insurance Contributions.

Eligibility for unemployment benefit

Your savings are taken into account, and if you have more than £6,000 saved then you will receive less unemployment benefit. If you have savings of more than £16,000 then it is highly unlikely that you will be approved to receive Job Seeker's Allowance.

If you have a partner who works more than 24 hours per week then it is also unlikely that you will receive benefits as your partner will be assessed too.

How to claim employment benefit

The first thing to do when considering claiming unemployment benefit is to contact Jobcentre Plus on 0800 055 6688. They are open Monday to Friday 8am - 6pm. Following an initial interview if your claim is successful you will have to wait three days before you start getting paid, and then payment is every two weeks. The amount you will receive depends on your age and circumstances (e.g. single parent or couple), but the maximum weekly payment is £53.45 for 16-24 year-olds and £67.50 for anyone over 25 years-old.

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