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How to claim JSA

This advice applies to Wales

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 to use the Payment Exception Service - 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.

If you resigned from your last job - 'leaving work voluntarily'

When you apply, you'll have to explain the reasons why you resigned - for example if your job was causing you health problems.

If the Jobcentre don't think you had a good reason, they might give you a sanction at the start of your claim. This means you'll have to wait a few weeks before you get your first payment.

You shouldn't be sanctioned if you left your job because you:

  • took voluntary redundancy
  • weren't getting the minimum wage
  • you weren't safe because your job conditions didn't meet health and safety standards
  • were bullied or harassed - as long as the DWP agree that leaving your job in these circumstances was reasonable
  • had a zero-hour contract
  • left the job during the 'trial period' - this is usually more than 5 weeks but less than 13 weeks after starting

If you need to show the Jobcentre you had a good reason for leaving your job, you should get evidence together such as:

  • messages between you and your employer or union about your resignation
  • photos of unsafe conditions at work
  • copies of payslips showing less than the minimum wage

You should explain your reasons for resigning when you apply for JSA. Explain what evidence you have and that you can give them the evidence at your first JSA claim interview.

If you left because of childcare commitments

You should show that the working hours made it impossible for you to look after your children. Explain to the Jobcentre:

  • when you need to look after your children
  • why you couldn't use after school clubs or relatives to help you
  • any requests you made to your employer to change your working hours
  • any changes your employer made to your working pattern

You'll need to get evidence together such as:

  • a letter from school or nursery
  • a copy of your contract
  • messages between you and your employer or union

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:

Universal Credit helpline (live service)
Telephone: 0800 328 9344
Textphone: 0800 328 1344
Telephone (Welsh language): 0800 328 1744
Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm

Calls to these numbers are free.

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:

Universal Credit helpline
Telephone: 0800 055 6688
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Calls to this number are free.

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
Welsh language: 0800 012 1888

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. 

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