If you are aged 18 or over and unemployed, you may be paid either Jobseeker's Allowance (JA) or Jobseeker's Benefit (JB). Both payments are paid by the Department of Social Protection (DSP). Jobseeker's Allowance used to be called Unemployment Assistance (the name of the payment changed in October 2006).
You may get Jobseeker's Allowance if you don't qualify for Jobseeker's Benefit or if you have used up your entitlement to Jobseeker's Benefit. In some cases, if you are only entitled to a reduced rate of Jobseeker's Benefit you may be better off on Jobseeker's Allowance. However, Jobseeker's Allowance is means-tested and your means must be below a certain level to qualify.
You must be unemployed to get Jobseeker’s Allowance. You must also be capable of, available for, and genuinely seeking work to qualify for Jobseeker’s Allowance – and you must be able to show evidence of this to the Department of Social Protection. However, you may get a proportion of your Jobseeker’s Allowance if your days at work are reduced or if you can only get part-time or casual work. There is an exemption from some of the rules for retained firefighters. People who had been getting a One-Parent Family Payment and who no longer qualify because their youngest child has reached the age limit can qualify for a special payment called Jobseeker's Allowance Transition.
Income from work affects the amount of Jobseeker’s Allowance you get. Find out more about how income from work is assessed for Jobseeker’s Allowance.
From 15 January 2014 people without children getting Jobseeker’s Allowance who are aged between 18 and 24 years will receive €100 per week. People without children getting Jobseeker’s Allowance aged 25 years will receive €144 a week. This weekly €144 rate will increase to €188 when they reach 26 years of age.
These new age-related reductions will only apply to new applicants. This means that people aged between 18 and 26 who are getting a higher rate before the Budget changes take effect can remain on that rate until they turn 26 (provided their claim is not broken).
These reduced rates of Jobseeker’s Allowance will apply to people aged 25 and under who have exhausted their entitlement to Jobseeker’s Benefit.
From 1 January 2014 all new Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) participants aged under 26 who were getting a reduced age-related Jobseeker’s Allowance payment, will get a maximum BTEA rate of €160 per week (any means participants have will be deducted from this rate).
Currently, all Jobseeker's Allowance and Supplementary Welfare Allowance recipients, regardless of age, who have children receive a personal rate of €188 per week and an increase for a qualified adult, if applicable, of €124.80 plus qualified child increases. There are no changes to those arrangements.
The HSE care provision for people getting JA is also extended to age 24 for new claims taken on or after 15 January 2014. So, for example, a person who applies for JA after 15 January 2014 and is aged between 18-24 will get a rate of €188 because they were in the care of the HSE during their 17th year.
The Department of Social Protection is putting new administrative provisions in place to ease the transition from the labour force into retirement. From 1 January 2014, if you are claiming Jobseeker’s Benefit or Allowance and are aged 62 or over, the following will apply:
In addition, most jobseekers aged 62 or over will be placed on a yearly signing arrangement with their local social welfare office (this means that they do not need to sign on regularly) and most will be transferred to Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) payments so payment can be made directly into their bank account. Certain categories of older jobseekers may be required to engage more frequently with their local social welfare office. For example, casual jobseekers of 62 and older must continue to submit weekly dockets of their work patterns.
Note that to qualify for either Jobseeker’s Benefit or Allowance you must be genuinely seeking work and be available for full-time employment and these conditions will continue to apply to older jobseekers.
Intreo is a new service from the Department of Social Protection which will provide a single point of contact for all employment and income supports. Currently Intreo is available in several Department of Social Protection offices. More Intreo centres are due to open during 2013. Details of new locations will be published on welfare.ie.
To get Jobseeker's Allowance you must:
To get Jobseeker’s Allowance you must be unemployed. However, there are circumstances in which you can do some work and get Jobseeker’s Allowance. You can also take up to two weeks holiday in a year and continue to get your payment.
If you get part-time or casual work (up to and including 3 days per week), you may still be paid a proportion of your Jobseeker's Allowance. However, you must show that you are trying to get full-time employment.
If you have been getting long-term Jobseeker's Allowance (over 390 days or 15 months) and you take up part-time work for less than 24 hours a week you may be eligible for the Part-time Job Incentive Scheme (PTJI). This scheme allows you to take up part-time work and get a special weekly allowance instead of your jobseeker’s payment. Days of unemployment on Jobseeker's Benefit count towards the 390 days if your Jobseeker’s Benefit claim was immediately before the award of Jobseeker’s Allowance.
Reduced days at work
If your employer reduces your days at work to 3 days week or less, you may get Jobseeker's Allowance for the other days. You must meet the other conditions that apply to Jobseeker's Allowance, for example, you must satisfy a means test.
A lay-off situation arises where your employer is unable to provide work for you, but believes this to be a temporary situation and tells you this before the work finishes. If you are laid off work you may get Jobseeker’s Allowance. You will not get Jobseeker’s Allowance for any day you are getting holiday pay.
If you are self-employed, you may be entitled to Jobseeker's Allowance, depending on your income from your business. You can find out out more about self-employment and unemployment on selfemployedsupports.ie. Self-employed farmers on a low income should apply for Farm Assist.
You may be able to do voluntary work and continue to get Jobseeker's Allowance. You must continue to satisfy the conditions of the payment, which means that you must be available and looking for work. You must also get permission from a Deciding Officer at your social welfare local office or Intreo centre. Find out more about voluntary work and social welfare payments.
If you are on strike, you will not be considered unemployed and will not get Jobseeker's Allowance. However, if you are out of work as a result of a strike, for example, you have been laid off because of the strike, you may get Jobseeker's Allowance. You may get Jobseeker's Allowance if you are "not participating in or directly interested in the trade dispute which caused the stoppage at work".
If you are on strike your family may get Supplementary Welfare Allowance.
You are capable of work unless you can produce medical evidence to prove that you are not able to work. If you have spent some time incapable of work you must produce a final medical certificate to prove that you are now fit for work. If you are ill and incapable of work you may be entitled to Disability Allowance or Illness Benefit. If you are pregnant you are considered to be capable of work unless you have complications during your pregnancy or you are ill. You can read more in our document on 'Pregnancy and social welfare payments'.
The Department of Social Protection’s Operational Guidelines state that you are considered available for employment, if:
Essentially the Department of Social Protection considers that you are available for employment if you are prepared to accept any offers of suitable employment immediately.
However you can be regarded as not being available for work and therefore not entitled to Jobseeker's Allowance if you put unreasonable restrictions on the following:
If a Deciding Officer thinks that that you have placed unreasonable restrictions, you will be interviewed and given the opportunity to respond. Note that if you refuse a suitable offer of work you can be disqualified from Jobseeker’s Allowance. If you are looking after a sick or elderly person you may be entitled to Carer's Allowance.
You can read more about the available for work condition in the Department of Social Protection’s Operational Guidelines. See also 'Further information' below.
You must also show that you are genuinely looking for work. The Operational Guidelines state that a day is not treated as a day of unemployment unless on that day you are genuinely seeking suitable work.
You must be able to show that you are making genuine efforts to secure employment. You need to provide examples of such steps. Steps which would indicate that you are considered to be genuinely seeking work may include:
Jobseeker's Allowance is a means-tested payment. Your means must be below a certain level to get Jobseeker’s Allowance. A means test looks at all your sources of income including your spouse’s, civil partner’s or cohabitant's. However, some income may not be taken into account. (A cohabitant is a person living in an intimate and committed relationship with a person of the same or opposite sex who is not that person’s spouse, civil partner, or a close relative.)
Your total household means is deducted from the maximum payment for your household's circumstances (usually this is the personal rate including any increases for adult and child dependants) to find the actual amount of Jobseeker’s Allowance you are entitled to. Find out more about the means test for Jobseeker’s Allowance.
Your means are halved if your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant is getting a social welfare payment in his or her own right* or is on a FÁS or VTOS course and getting an allowance. If your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant is getting a payment in his or her own right you will not get an Increase for a Qualified Adult but you will get a half-rate increase for each qualified child.
If you are 24 years of age or under and you are living with a parent or a step-parent in the family home, some of your parents' income will also be taken into account in the assessment for Jobseeker's Allowance. The Department call this an assessment of the 'benefit andprivilege' you get from living with your parents. Find out more about how living with your parents is assessed in the means test.
If your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant works it can affect your Jobseeker's Allowance. Their earnings from insurable employment are assessed in the same way as your earnings from part-time or casual work. Find out more about work and Jobseeker’s Allowance.
You may be disqualified from getting Jobseeker's Allowance for 9 weeks if you:
Suitable employment does not include employment in a job that is vacant because of a trade dispute. In addition, the employment must be suitable, having regard to your age, sex, physique, education, normal occupation, where you live, rate of pay offered and your family circumstances.
The Social Welfare Act 2010 provides that your payment can be reduced if you:
Community Employment Schemes are not considered to be FÁS training opportunities.
If you are:
If you have just left school you cannot get Jobseeker's Allowance. To get Jobseeker's Allowance you must have been out of school for three months and you must be at least 18 years of age.
Third-level students cannot claim Jobseeker's Allowance or Benefit while they are studying full-time. This disqualification also applies to the summer holiday periods between academic years (unless you are a mature student). However once you have finished college permanently you can claim a jobseeker's payment if you cannot find work. This is also the case if you leave college without finishing your course.
The Department of Social Protection operates a fast-tracking system for people who sign off a jobseeker's payment to take up work for a short period (up to 8 weeks) or to go on a short training course (up to 8 weeks). This ensures that your payment is re-instated without delay. It is important that you inform your local social welfare office in advance that you are taking up work or training. Your Rent Supplement or Mortgage Interest Supplement claim can also be suspended for up to 8 weeks.
JobBridge, the National Internship
Scheme provides work experience for people who have been getting a
jobseeker’s payment or signing for credits for at least 3 months. See our document
on JobBridge. The Work
Placement Programme provides 9 months’ work experience for graduates and
other unemployed people. For more information contact your local employment
|New and existing claimants||Personal rate||Increase for a qualified adult||Increase for a qualified child|
|Age||Personal rate||Increase for a qualified adult|
|18 - 21||€100||€100|
|22 - 24||€144||€124.80|
Exceptions to age-related Jobseeker's Allowance payments for people under 25
The reduced age-related personal and qualified adult rates of Jobseeker’s Allowance for claimants under 25 years of age do not apply to:
Certain children in the care of the HSE during the 12 months before reaching 18 years of age are also assessed using the JA rate for people aged 25 or over. This exception only applies between the ages of 18 and 21. From the age of 22, the age-related rate applies. (This will change from 15 January 2014 - see Budget 2014 above.)
If you qualify for Jobseeker’s Allowance you get an amount for yourself, which is called the 'personal rate of payment'. You may also get an increase in your payment for an adult dependant and any child dependants you may have.
A 'child dependant' is usually a child up to 18 years of age who lives with you.
If you are getting a Jobseeker’s Allowance for at least 156 days and your child is in full-time education, an Increase for a Qualified Child (IQC) will be paid up to 22 years of age or up to the end of the academic year in which he or she reaches 22.
You will only get a half-rate IQC if you and your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant are both getting a social welfare payment. You will each get a half-rate IQC.
You may get an Increase for a Qualified Adult (IQA) for an adult dependant (this is usually your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant). If you are single, widowed, divorced, separated, a former civil partner or not living with your civil partner, and living with a person aged 16 or over, you can claim an IQC for them but only if he or she is caring for a child dependant of yours. See also 'Means test' above.
You can collect your Jobseeker’s Allowance payment weekly from your nearest Post Office.
You must bring valid photographic identification (photo ID) with you to collect your payment. The following is considered to be valid photo ID:
Staff working in the Post Office may ask to see your photo ID before giving you your payment.
You should apply for Jobseeker's Allowance the first day you become unemployed.
It is important to apply on the first day you become unemployed because you will not get paid for the first three days of your claim.
Jobseeker's Allowance application forms are available online. You can also get an application form at your social welfare local office or Intreo centre. You will need to bring certain documents to prove your claim. You may find this list of documents you need when you apply for Jobseeker's Allowance useful.
You can get help with filling in your application form at your social welfare local office or nearest Citizens Information Centre.
More information about applying for Jobseeker's Allowance is available in
our document about signing on for the
If you think you have been wrongly refused Jobseeker's Allowance you can appeal the decision.
You can be regarded as not being available for work and not entitled to Jobseeker's Allowance (JA) or Jobseeker's Benefit (JB) if you put unreasonable restrictions on the following:
In any case where a Deciding Officer is of the opinion that you have placed unreasonable restrictions, you will be interviewed and given the opportunity to respond.
For example, you are considered unavailable for work in the following circumstances:
If you are ill and not capable of work you may be entitled to Disability Allowance. If you are getting Jobseeker's Benefit and become ill you may be entitled to Illness Benefit. If you are looking after a sick or elderly person you may be entitled to Carer's Allowance.
There are legislative provisions specifying the circumstances in which a person may be deemed to be available for work or is exempted from the requirement to be available for work:
Night workers: When you are employed to work continuously from one day through to another, the general rule is that the day on which the shorter number of hours is worked is treated as a day of unemployment. You are also deemed to be available for work on that day.
Rehabilitation training: You are considered to be available for work on any day you are participating in a course of rehabilitation training provided by an organisation approved by the Minister for Health and Children for that purpose.
Courses of education, training or development: You are deemed to be available for work while participating in a course of education, training or development approved by the Minister of Social Protection provided that you are at least 21 years of age, you are getting JA or JB for at least 6 months (156 days) and you have given notice of your intention to participate in the course. The course chosen must enhance your employment prospects. Courses may be approved by the Department's Job Facilitators or by Back to Education Schemes Section.
If you are getting Jobseeker's Allowance, you may be entitled to:
Rent Supplement - a payment that helps with the cost of your rent.
Mortgage Interest Supplement - a payment that helps with the cost of your mortgage interest.
Fuel Allowance - a weekly payment between October and April to help with fuel costs. Fuel Allowance is payable to people who have been getting a jobseeker’s payment for 390 days, if they satisfy the relevant qualifying conditions. Days of unemployment on Jobseeker's Benefit count towards the 390 days if the Jobseeker’s Benefit claim was immediately before the award of Jobseeker’s Allowance.
Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance - a payment designed to help towards the cost of uniforms and footwear for children who are attending school. The scheme is payable between June and September each year - contact your local health centre.
Medical card - if your income is below certain level, you may get a medical card. It covers you for free doctor care, prescriptions, etc. - contact your local health office.
School Books Grant Scheme - each year, the Department of Education and Skills provides grants to primary, secondary and comprehensive schools towards the cost of schoolbooks for students in financial need. You should contact the school principal for more information. The school principal will also advise you whether the school runs a book loan scheme, whereby your children's books are provided for a nominal rental charge each year.
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.