Check if a change affects your JSA
You'll need to tell the Department for Communities (DfC) in writing about some changes to your work, money or family life. This is called a 'change of circumstances'.
It's important to tell the DfC to make sure you get all the JSA you're entitled to and to avoid an overpayment.
Most changes have to be reported in writing within 1 month - but you should report them as soon as you know about the change, if you can.
You should also tell your personal adviser about any changes that stop you keeping to your claimant commitment. Tell them even if it's a small change, for example if changes to your childcare mean you have 3 hours less a week to look for jobs.
Changes you have to report in writing
You have to report all these changes in writing to the DfC, even if you've already told your personal adviser.
You also have to tell the DfC even if another government department already knows. For example, if you tell HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) about a change, you still need to tell the DfC.
If you've used the Bereavement Service to report the death of someone claiming JSA, you don't need to tell the DfC. The Bereavement Service will let them know.
You must write to tell the DfC if you or your partner:
- start working (even if it's not paid)
- change your hours to more than 16 a week
- stop working
- start earning more money
- start earning less money
You should tell them even if it's just one payment, or won't be the same amount regularly. Explain how much money you think it will be in total and how long for. If you don't know the exact amount, work out what you think it might be and tell the DfC it's an estimate.
If you're starting a new job, include in your letter:
- your employer's name and address
- when the job started
- how many hours you work each week
- how much money you earn - before tax and other deductions
- if money is being taken off for a pension - tell them how much it is, if you can
Money, savings and benefit changes
You must write to the DfC about certain changes to your money or any other benefits you get.
Tell the DfC if you or your partner:
- claim any new benefits (even if they're not being paid yet)
- stop getting a benefit - for example child tax credits
- get a one-off payment - for example if you inherit some money or are paid compensation
Changes to your savings
If you get income-based JSA and your savings were £16,000 or less when you started claiming, tell the DfC if they go up to more than £16,000. This includes any savings your partner has.
Changes to do with your home and family
You must write and tell the DfC if you:
- start studying full-time - or if under 19, start a full or part-time advanced education course, for example teacher training
- reach state pension age - you can check your state pension age on GOV.UK
- go to prison
If you get income-based JSA, you'll need to tell the DfC if any of them happen to your partner. You must also tell them if:
- you stop living with your partner
- you start living with a new partner
- you get divorced, married or form a civil partnership
- your partner leaves the UK for more than 4 weeks - or 8 weeks if they're accompanying a child getting medical treatment
If you’re under 18 and responsible for a child
Tell the DfC if the child you're responsible for:
- leaves school
- moves out of your home
- leaves the UK for more than 4 weeks - or 8 weeks if it's to get medical treatment
You're responsible for a child if they either live with you all the time or usually live with you and you're their main carer.
Changes to your home
Tell the DfC if:
- you move home
- someone moves out of your home
- someone moves into your home - for example if they rent a room
If you have a mortgage and your JSA is helping pay the mortgage interest, you need to tell the DfC if the amount you owe changes - for example because you re-mortgage.
Once you've told your personal adviser, if a health problem lasts more than 2 weeks you should also write to tell the DfC.
You should tell them if you or partner goes into or leaves hospital. You should also tell them if your partner goes to stay in or leaves a care home.
If your health problems mean you can't do all your work activities, ask to change your jobseekers' agreement. It's worth doing even for a small change, for example if regular doctor appointments mean you have 2 hours less a week to look for work.
If someone dies
You'll need to tell the DfC about the death of:
- your partner
- your child - if you're claiming JSA because you're under 18 and responsible for a child
- someone you were caring for
- anyone over 18 and living with you
You can use the Bereavement Service on nidirect to tell government departments about a death quickly and easily. You can also ask your personal adviser for a break from job hunting if a member of your family has died.
Changes to your immigration status
If you're an EEA national and lose your 'right to reside' you won't be entitled to income-based JSA anymore.
If you're not an EEA national, a change to your immigration status might also affect your JSA.
This is a complicated area, so it's best to get advice if you think a change to your immigration status or right to reside might affect your JSA.
Writing to the DfC
Write ‘change of circumstances’ clearly at the top of the letter. Give as much information about the change as you can. For example if your partner has moved out, tell the DfC their name, when they moved and what their new address is.
Keep a copy of the letter and send copies of any evidence. For example, copies of your payslips if you’re reporting a change in income.
Send your letter by Royal Mail Signed For and keep the receipt - you might need to prove when you posted it and when it arrived. Send it to the address on the letter that told you how much JSA you’ll get. If you can’t find this letter, call the DfC and ask which office to send it to.
Benefits Freephone number
Telephone: 0800 022 4250
Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm
Textphone: 028 8225 0774
If you’ve missed the 1-month deadline
It’s better to report a change late than not to report it at all.
You can report a change up to 13 months late, but in your letter you’ll need to explain why you couldn’t report the change on time. For example, if you were sick for a number of weeks.
You’ll get any extra JSA from the date you reported the change. If you’re entitled to less JSA, your payments will be reduced from the date of the change. This means if you reported the change after it happened you might have been overpaid - and will usually need to pay the money back.
Finding out how much you’ll get after the change
The DfC might ask you for more information so they can work out how much to pay you. They'll send you a letter telling you:
- what information you need to send them
- when you need to send it by
It's important to send the DfC the information they're asking for in time - if you don't, they might stop your JSA. Use Royal Mail Signed For and keep the receipt. Call the DfC if there's anything you can't send.
When the DfC have got the information they need they'll write to you to explain how your JSA will change. Look out for the letter - this confirms they've recorded your change of circumstances and will be paying you the right amount of JSA.
They'll also tell you if there's anything else you need to do. For example, if you must make a new claim as a single person.
Check the letter to make sure the DfC have recorded the right change of circumstances. You should tell them if they've made a mistake by calling the DfC.
If you don’t get a letter from the DfC within 3 weeks
Call the DfC and ask them if they've recorded your change of circumstances. You'll need details of what the change was and when you told them about it - for example proof of postage if you sent a letter.
Try to save the extra JSA if you think the DfC might be paying you too much. This will make it easier to pay it back if you need to.
Your nearest Citizens Advice can help if you’re having trouble reporting a change of circumstances.