Jobseeker's Benefit is a weekly payment from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) to people who are out of work and are covered by social insurance (PRSI). If you don't qualify for Jobseeker's Benefit you may qualify for Jobseeker's Allowance.
Budget 2018: the maximum weekly rate of Jobseeker's Benefit will increase by €5, with proportional increases for qualified adults and those on reduced rates of payment. In addition, the weekly rate for a qualified child will increase by €2 from €29.80 to €31.80. These increases will take effect from the week beginning 26 March 2018.
To qualify for Jobseeker's Benefit (JB) you must be aged under 66 and:
- Be unemployed (you must be fully unemployed or unemployed for at least 4 days out of 7)
- Have had a substantial loss of employment and as a result be unemployed for at least 4 days out of 7
- Be capable of work
- Be available for and genuinely seeking work
- Have enough social insurance (PRSI) contributions
You can read more about the conditions for getting a jobseeker's payment and about the employment services the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection offers to jobseekers.
Jobseeker's Benefit and work
To get Jobseeker's Benefit you must be unemployed, or have lost at least one day's employment and as a result be unemployed for at least 4 days out of 7 days. You may continue to get Jobseeker's Benefit if you can only find part-time or casual work.
Where a Jobseeker's Benefit recipient is working for part of a week, their entitlement will be based on a 5-day payment week. This means that for each day that a person is employed, 1/5th of the normal rate of Jobseeker's Benefit is deducted. If they get part-time work for 2 days, they will get 3/5ths of the normal Jobseeker's Benefit for that week and if they get part-time work for 3 days, they will get 2/5ths of the normal rate of Jobseeker’s Benefit for the week. You must still be unemployed for at least 4 days out of 7 to claim Jobseeker's Benefit. You can read FAQS about the 5-day working week on welfare.ie.
There is an exemption from some of the rules for retained firefighters. More information is available about work and Jobseeker’s Benefit.
If you are getting JB you can use the Benefit of Work Ready Reckoner from the DEASP to help you assess the financial consequences of taking up full-time work. The Reckoner works out the total amount you would receive on taking up full-time work (including any Family Income Supplement) and compares this to your jobseeker's payment (including Rent Supplement).
Loss of employment
You must have suffered a substantial loss of employment in any period of 7 consecutive days to be eligible for Jobseeker's Benefit, (casual workers and retained firefighters with no other employment are exempt from this rule). This means that you must have lost at least one day's employment and, as a result of this loss, be unemployed for at least 4 days out of 7. Your earnings must also have been reduced because of the loss of employment.
Pregnancy and Jobseeker's Benefit
There are some exceptions to the rules for pregnant women around the time of birth. You can read more in our document about pregnancy and social welfare payments.
Social insurance (PRSI) contributions
To qualify for Jobseeker's Benefit, you must pay Class A, H or P PRSI contributions. Class A is the one paid by most private sector employees. Class H is paid by soldiers, reservists and temporary army nurses, who do not qualify for Jobseeker's Benefit until they have left the army. To qualify you need:
- At least 104 weeks of PRSI paid since you first started work
- 39 weeks of PRSI paid or credited in the relevant tax year (a minimum of 13 weeks must be paid contributions*)
- 26 weeks of PRSI paid in the relevant tax year and 26 weeks of PRSI paid in the tax year immediately before the relevant tax year.
*If you do not have 13 paid contributions in the relevant tax year, you must have paid 13 contributions in any of the following years:
- The 2 tax years before the relevant tax year
- The last complete tax year
- The current tax year.
The relevant tax year is the second-last complete tax year before the year in which your claim is made. So, for claims made in 2017, the relevant tax year is 2015.
There are a number of circumstances in which you can be awarded credited contributions. For example, pre-entry credits are given when you start employment for the first time in your working life. However, you can only qualify for Jobseeker's Benefit when you have actually paid 104 contributions. Credits are also awarded while you are getting certain social welfare payments, including Jobseeker's Benefit (provided it is for 6 days), Illness Benefit and, in some cases, Jobseeker's Allowance.
Contributions you have paid in other member states of the EU/EEA will be added to your Irish contributions. If you are applying for Jobseeker's Benefit and need the contributions paid in another EU/EEA member state to help you qualify, then your last contribution must have been in Ireland.
You may be disqualified from getting Jobseeker's Benefit for 9 weeks if you:
- Left work voluntarily and without a reasonable cause
- Lost your job through misconduct
- Refused an offer of suitable alternative employment or suitable training - if you have been on a penalty rate of JB for at least 21 days
- Are aged under 55 and get a redundancy payment of more than €50,000. The exact length of your disqualification (up to 9 weeks) will depend on the amount of redundancy payment you received.
If you are aged under 55 and get a redundancy payment of more than €50,000, you are disqualified from claiming Jobseeker's Benefit. The table below shows how long you may be disqualified for. The length of the disqualification is at the discretion of the Deciding Officer (who can take your circumstances into account). Any period of disqualification is subtracted from your total Jobseeker's Benefit entitlement. So, if you are disqualified for 3 weeks (which is 18 days' payment) your JB claim starts on day 19. Note that people who take voluntary redundancy and do not get a redundancy payment of over €50,000 can claim jobseeker's payments immediately.
|Amount of redundancy payment||Period of disqualification|
|€50,000.01 - €55,000||1 week|
|€55,000.01 - €60,000||2 weeks|
|€60,000.01 - €65,000||3 weeks|
|€65,000.01 - €70,000||4 weeks|
|€70,000.01 - €75,000||5 weeks|
|€75,000.01 - €80,000||6 weeks|
|€80,000.01 - €85,000||7 weeks|
|€85,000.01 - €90,000||8 weeks|
|€90,000.01 and over||9 weeks|
Duration of Jobseeker's Benefit
Jobseeker's Benefit is paid for 9 months (234 days) for people with 260 or more PRSI contributions paid. It is paid for 6 months (156 days) for people with fewer than 260 PRSI contributions paid.
There are some special provisions for older jobseekers. People over 65 who are claiming Jobseeker’s Benefit (JB), and who have at least 156 PRSI contributions, can continue to receive JB until their 66th birthday even if their claim is due to end before that date.
|Number of contributions||Duration of JB claim|
|260 or more||234 days (9 months)|
|Less than 260||156 days (6 months)|
Re-qualifying for Jobseeker's Benefit
You can re-qualify for JB if:
- You have used up your full JB entitlement (either 9 or 6 months)
- You have paid 13 PRSI contributions for at least 13 weeks (these contributions can be counted only after you have claimed at least 156 days (6 months) of JB)
However, if you are working and claiming JB (systematic short-time workers and part-time workers) you cannot simply continue your JB claim when it is exhausted since you must have suffered a substantial loss of employment to re-qualify for JB, (unless you are a casual worker).
If you have lost your job you will have suffered a substantial loss of employment. If you are a part-time or systematic short-time worker, DEASP will look at your pattern of employment over the last 13 weeks or another representative period to find out whether you have suffered a substantial loss of employment.
For example, if you are getting JB and working 3 days each week as a systematic short-time worker or a part-time worker and your employment pattern has not changed during the course of your JB claim, you will not have suffered a substantial loss of employment and will not re-qualify for Jobseeker’s Benefit when you exhaust your claim. However, if your JB claim ends and your 3-day week working week is then reduced to a 2-day week, you will have suffered a substantial loss of employment and may re-qualify for Jobseeker’s Benefit.
If you claim JB for a period, sign off and then claim JB again within 26 weeks, your claim may be linked to the earlier claim. This means that your claim is not treated as a new claim and:
- You do not have to wait for 3 days before getting your payment
- The cumulative total of days from the previous claim is continued (so, for example, if you have used up 100 days of your total JB entitlement of 234 days you have 134 days remaining on your claim)
- The rate of JB is the same rate payable as on the previous claim, unless there has been a budgetary increase or change in family circumstances (such as a new child dependant).
If your JB claim does not link to a previous claim it is treated as a new claim. You must wait for 3 days before getting a payment and your cumulative total of days starts from the first day of payment.
You can read more about linking claims including information on linking to a different scheme (such as Illness Benefit) and linking to an earlier JB claim through a different scheme or period spent in training or on an employment scheme.
Short-term employment or training
The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection operates a fast-tracking system for people who sign off to take up work for a short period (up to 12 weeks) or to go on a short training course (up to 12 weeks). This ensures that your payment is re-instated without delay. It is important that you inform your Intreo Centre or local Social Welfare Branch Office in advance that you are taking up work or training. Your Rent Supplement claim can also be suspended for up to 12 weeks.
Jobseeker's Benefit is not paid for the first 3 days you are unemployed (the first 3 days are any 3 days, not necessarily consecutive, in a period of 7 consecutive days).
If you are unemployed for a second time within 26 weeks of your last JB payment, your application for Jobseeker's Benefit is not treated as a new claim and you do not have another 3 days of non-payment. See 'Linking claims' above.
Weekly Jobseeker's Benefit payment from 9 March 2017
|Average weekly earnings||Personal rate||Increase for a qualified adult||Increase for a qualified child|
|Less than €150||€86.70||
|€150 - €219.99||€124.60|
|€220 - €299.99||€151.20|
|€300 or more||€193.00||€128.10|
Average weekly earnings
Jobseeker's Benefit rates are graduated according to your earnings in the relevant tax year. Your average weekly earnings are your gross yearly earnings from employment divided by the number of paid A, H or P contributions in the relevant tax year.
The relevant tax year is 2 years before the year of your claim. For example, if you claim Jobseeker's Benefit in 2017 the relevant tax year is 2015. If you only qualify for a reduced JB payment, it may of greater benefit for you to claim Jobseeker's Allowance instead of Jobseeker's Benefit.
Your payment can be reduced if you refuse or fail to attend meetings requested by the Department or if you refuse or fail to participate in an appropriate employment support scheme, work experience or training. You can find out about sanctions for not meeting the conditions of your jobseeker's payment. Penalty rates do not apply to people aged over 62.
Claiming for dependants with Jobseeker's Benefit
If your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant is dependent on you or is on a low income, you may be able to claim an increase in your payment for him or her. This increase is called an Increase for a Qualified Adult (IQA). If your adult dependant is earning €100 or less you will get the maximum IQA. If he or she is earning between €100 and €310 you will get a reduced rate of IQA. If your adult dependant is earning more than €310 you will not get an increase in your Jobseeker’s Benefit for your adult dependant.
You can look at our documents on Claiming for an adult dependant and Jobseeker's Benefit and work to find out more. If you have dependent children you may also be able to claim an increase in your payment for them.
In some cases, a current JB claim may be linked to an older claim (see above). If your JB claim is linked to a claim earlier than 2009 the following graduated rates apply:
For claims in 2016 and up to 9 March 2017 linked to JB claims started before 2009:
|Average weekly earnings||Personal rate||Qualified adult rate|
|Less than €80||€84.50||€80.90|
|€80 - €124.99||€121.40||€80.90|
|€125 - €149.99||€147.30||€80.90|
|€150 or more||€188||€124.80|
For claims from 9 March 2017 linked to JB claims started before 2009:
|Average weekly earnings||Personal rate||Qualified adult rate|
|Less than €80||€86.70||€83.00|
|€80 - €124.99||€124.60||€83.00|
|€125 - €149.99||€151.20||€83.00|
|€150 or more||€193.00||€128.10|
You can collect your Jobseeker's Benefit payment weekly from your nearest post office.
You must bring valid photographic identification (photo ID) with you to collect your payment. The following is regarded as valid photo ID:
- Public Services Card
Staff working in the post office may ask to see your photo ID before giving you your payment.
Taxation of Jobseeker's Benefit
Jobseeker's Benefit is taxable. However, if you are getting Jobseeker's Benefit because your normal working week has been reduced temporarily (systematic short-time work), your Jobseeker's Benefit is not taxed. If you are working part-time and getting Jobseeker’s Benefit for the days you are not employed, your Jobseeker’s Benefit is taxable. Find out more about the taxation of Jobseeker's Benefit and the taxation of JB for systematic short-time workers.
If you are getting Jobseeker's Benefit, you may be entitled to:
- Rent Supplement - a payment under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme.
- Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance - an allowance to help with the cost of uniforms and footwear for children who are attending school.
- Medical card - if your income is below a certain level, you may get a medical card.
How to apply
You should apply for Jobseeker's Benefit 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 3 days of your claim.
Jobseeker's Benefit application forms are available online. If it is your first time applying (or it has been more than 2 years since you last claimed), you complete form UP 1 (pdf). If you are making a repeat claim (less than 2 years since your last claim), you complete form UP 6 (pdf). Application forms are also available from your local Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office.
You will also need certain documents when you apply for Jobseeker's Benefit. If you do not have these documents to hand, you should apply anyway and supply them later. You should remember that delay in applying for Jobseeker's Benefit may mean that you lose out on your full entitlements.
You can get help to fill in your application form at your Intreo Centre, Social Welfare Branch Office or Citizens Information Centre.
More information is available in our document about signing on for the first time.
If you think you have been wrongly refused Jobseeker's Benefit you can appeal the decision.
Where to apply
You should apply for Jobseeker's Benefit to your Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office.
Half-rate Jobseeker's Benefit with another social welfare payment
In the past, people getting a Widow's, Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's Pension, a One-Parent Family Payment or a deserted wife's payment and who met all the conditions for Jobseeker's Benefit, were entitled to half the normal rate of Jobseeker's Benefit. These half-rate payments were discontinued from February 2012.
Changes to duration of Jobseeker's Benefit
The duration of Jobseeker's Benefit reduced by 3 months with effect from 3 April 2013. For people with 260 or more PRSI contributions paid, it reduced from 12 months (312 days) to 9 months (234 days). For people with fewer than 260 PRSI contributions paid, it reduced from 9 months (234 days) to 6 months (156 days). Claimants getting Jobseeker's Benefit for 6 months or more on 3 April 2013 (or 3 months for people with fewer than 260 contributions) were not affected (see table below).
|Number of paid contributions||Number of days claiming JB||Maximum duration of JB claim||Effect of change|
|260 or more||156 or more (6 months or more)||312 days (12 months)||No change|
|260 or more||Less than 156 (less than 6 months)||234 days (9 months)||Claim duration reduces by 78 days (3 months)|
|Less than 260||78 or more (3 months)||234 days (9 months)||No change|
|Less than 260||Less than 78 (less than 3 months)||156 days (6 months)||Claim duration reduces by 78 days (3 months)|