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How to Claim Job Seekers Allowance

Job Seekers Allowance, as the name suggests is a benefit the UK government offer to those who are unemployed and looking for work.  In order to claim JSA, the claimant must comply with a series of rules to prove your entitlement to receive the benefit.  This article will inform the categories someone who is eligible to claim JSA must fall into, how to apply for the benefit and finally what to expect and how to continue claiming.

One of the key rules of JSA is that the person who is claiming the benefit is actively seeking employment on a daily basis.  The person must also be over the age of 18 and be available for work, ready to start within a short period of time should a job opportunity appear.  The government in recent years has attempted to reduce the levels of those receiving JSA which in turn has made it harder for individuals to claim it.  According to the Office for National Statistics, in 2014 the number of people claiming Job Seeker’s Allowance, fell by 2,000 from March to 103,000 in April 2014.  The group that makes up the most of those claiming JSA fall into the age bracket of between 25 and 49.

Students in full time education are not eligible to claim JSA during their summer holidays unless the student has children to provide for.  Another caveat in claiming JSA, is that a person’s house hold income can have an effect on their entitlement to receive the benefit, and if so the amount of money they will receive. For those from overseas, they must prove that they have lived in the UK for three months and are of UK nationality and have not been in employment since returning.  Immigrants may be entitled to claim JSA if they are from a European Economic Area country which has drawn up agreements with the United Kingdom.  An extensive list of the countries is available on the government website.

When it comes to claiming JSA it is a process which mostly consists of form filling and attending interviews at the Job Centre. If an individual believes that they are eligible to claim, the first port of call is for them to fill out a form for JSA online. The form asks questions based on the number of hours of work, if any, a potential claimant works as well as the level of income they have.  After filling out the form, the Job Centre gets in touch with the claimant usually no longer than two days later by text or phone call to arrange a face to face interview to discuss their application. It is mandatory that the claimant attends the interview in order to start the process to receiving Job Seekers Allowance.  The claimant also must bring documentations such as their national insurance card and birth certificate to the interview as proof of identification.

The interview takes place at the person's local Job Centre and lasts on average half an hour.  Questions asked are based around the claimant's availability to work as well as the claimant agreeing to sign a claimant commitment which shows that they are willing to take all necessary steps to finding employment.  The claimant is then given a sheet in which they have to note down all the potential jobs that they have found and applied for.   They then take the sheet with them to their next meeting with their coach at the Job Centre, as proof that they have complied with the agreement signed and have taken necessary steps to finding employment. During the interview, the claimant’s coach will help them to carry out job searches online.  The Job Centre can also help the claimant improve their CV writing for help with seeking employment and can also offer to supply them with a suit should a job interview arise.  Once the claimant has enrolled for JSA, they must attend to meet with their advisor at the Job Centre once every fortnight.  The claimant is given a specific time and day to attend and must bring their sheet showing the jobs that they have applied for.  During a claimant’s slot, as well as signing on, the Job Centre’s coach will also look at the claimant’s recorded sheet, also known as a diary, of job applications to confirm that they have done everything in their power to actively look for work and are entitled to receiving the benefit.

The next stage in claiming JSA, is that the candidate then 'signs on' which means that they sign to receive the benefit into their account.  If the claimant does not attend their meeting to sign on, they do not receive payment for that fortnight. If the claimant’s behavior is not satisfactory or they do not comply to attend interviews, their payment can be suspended. According to Turn 2 Us, under 25's receive £57. 35 (£57.90 from April 2015) and £72.40 if you are 25 or over (£73.10 from April 2015).  If an individual is receiving JSA based on their income, the amount of money they will receive will differ from the amounts noted above.

JSA can be backdated to three months before the claimant applied, as long as they produce accurate evidence.  A claimant does not get paid JSA if they go on holiday abroad but may still receive their benefit if they are on holiday but still in the country.  In the circumstance that a claimant goes abroad, they must ''sign off'' which means that they get in touch with the Job Centre and inform them that they will be out of the country and not available to attend the Job Centre to sign on. In this case the claimant's form is frozen and they must make what is known as a 'rapid reclaim' when they return.  A rapid reclaim means that a candidate re-applies for JSA after their holiday and will attend another interview to discuss their application before returning each fortnight and signing on.  A claimant will stop receiving JSA once they have found work.

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