Skip to content Skip to footer

How to claim JSA

This advice applies to Scotland

The application process is different depending on the type of JSA you’re claiming - if you don’t already know, check which type you should claim

You'll need to gather the personal information you need, then apply online or by phone.

If you've had JSA in the last 6 months and your circumstances haven't changed, you can reclaim quickly instead of using the full process.

Get your personal information ready

Find all the personal information you need for your application. If you're making a joint claim, get this for each person.

How much money you have

You'll need your bank account number and sort code - if you don't have an account you'll need to open one. 

If you’ve tried to open an account and had your application refused, you can ask for a ‘simple payment’ - this means you can collect your JSA payments from a PayPoint. You’ll need to explain why you can’t open a bank account.

Check how much money you have coming in each month from benefits or work. Write these figures down separately. Check the amount of any other income, for example rent from a lodger.

If you're applying for income-based JSA, you'll also need to know how much you have in savings. Check any bank or savings accounts - and anywhere else that you have money.

If you’ve been paid redundancy, you’ll need to give full details of the payment - for example if it’s ‘statutory’ or ‘contractual’ redundancy.

Your current and past work

You'll need your National Insurance number and also your partner's. If you don't have one you should apply. You can find your National Insurance number or apply for one on GOV.UK.

Make a list of the jobs you've had in the last 6 months - including employer contact details and the dates you worked there

If you've done work-related courses and training in the last 6 months - check the dates and who the training was with.

Your working hours

You'll need to give the number of hours you work a week. If you do a different number each week, start by thinking if you do a regular pattern.

If there's no pattern to your work, count the hours you worked in the last 5 weeks and divide by 5 to get an average.

If you do a regular pattern, calculate how many hours you'd do each week if the work was spread evenly. For example if you work during 2 weeks but not the next, divide all the hours you work in the first 2 weeks by 3 (because your cycle is 3 weeks).

Your cycle can be a year, for example if you only work in school term time. Start with the hours you work in a week during working times. Multiply this by the number of weeks you work in a year, and divide this by 52.

If you need help working out your working hours, contact your nearest Citizens Advice.

Who you live with

You'll need the names of anyone you live with - whether they're family members or not. You might need to give information about their job, benefits and income, but you can still apply if you don't know.

If you don't have some of the information

You can start your claim without all the information but you’ll have to provide it later. Try and get it as soon as you can or your JSA claim might be delayed.

If you can’t get the information at all, you can ask to leave it out of your application - for example if a document is at someone else’s home and you don’t feel safe asking for it.

You’ll be invited to the Jobcentre for an interview after you apply - you can tell them about the information you can’t get and why you couldn’t get it.

If you're having trouble finding information you can contact your nearest Citizens Advice for help.

Apply for JSA

The application process is different depending on the type of JSA you’re claiming - if you don’t already know, check which type you should claim

If you can’t apply online or on the phone, call or visit your local Jobcentre to ask about other ways to claim - for example if English isn’t your first language, you might be able to arrange for an interpreter to help you apply.

Applying for 'new style' JSA

How you apply for JSA will depend on where you live. You’ll need to check if you’re in a live service area or a full service area for Universal Credit.

If you’re in a live service area

You’ll need to apply for JSA by phone if your postcode is in a live service area - call the UC helpline to claim:

UC helpline (live service area)
Telephone: 0345 600 0723
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Textphone: 0345 600 0743

Calls cost up to 45p a minute from mobiles and up to 12p a minute from landlines. It should be free if you call from your mobile and have landline calls included in your contract.

If you’re in a full service area

It’s free to apply online on GOV.UK. Take a photo or screen-shot of the message that says your claim has been sent - you might need this later to prove when you first claimed.

If you can’t apply online, call the UC helpline:

UC helpline (full service area)
Telephone: 0345 600 4272
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Textphone: 0345 600 0743

Calls cost up to 45p a minute from mobiles and up to 12p a minute from landlines. It should be free if you call from your mobile and have landline calls included in your contract.

Applying for contribution-based JSA or income-based JSA

You have to apply online on GOV.UK. If you don't have the internet, try to apply from somewhere else - for example at the library or a friend's house.

If you want to apply for help with housing costs, ask about this if you apply for JSA over the phone. If you apply online, it'll be on the first section of the claim form.

If you can’t apply online, you can phone the claim line. You’ll need to explain why you couldn’t apply online:

Jobcentre Plus claim line
Telephone: 0800 055 6688
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Textphone: 0800 023 4888

Calls to this number are free. Make a note of the date and time you call the claim line. Also write down the name of the person you spoke to. You might need these details if you need to prove when you started your claim.

Backdating JSA if you couldn't apply earlier

You might be able to ask for your JSA claim to be valid from an earlier date - this is called 'backdating'. You could get JSA for up to 3 months before you applied.

When you can backdate

You can only backdate your claim if you have a good reason - for example a close relative died or you were given wrong advice by the Jobcentre.

You'll usually need to have looked for a job and been available for work from the day you want your JSA to start. If this wasn't possible, you can still ask to backdate your claim but you'll need a good reason. This can be the same reason you give for wanting to backdate.

How to backdate your claim

When you apply you'll be asked when you want the claim to start. Give the date you'd have applied if you could, for example the date you were given wrong advice.

You'll need to give evidence to show why you didn't apply earlier. For example, if the Jobcentre gave you wrong information you could provide emails or letters showing what they told you.

You'll also need to prove you've been job hunting and available for work. Keep anything that shows this, for example copies of job applications or emails showing you registered with a job website.

It can be difficult to prove that you're entitled to backdated payments - contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you need help.

What happens next

You'll get a text or phone call inviting you to an interview at the Jobcentre to finish your claim. If you don't get this after 2 working days, call your Jobcentre.

You should plan for your interview by thinking about the job hunting and working arrangements that will be suitable for you. 

Did this advice help?