Means test for Jobseeker's Allowance
To qualify for Jobseeker’s Allowance (JA) you must satisfy a mean test. In a means test, the Department of Social Protection (DSP) examines all your sources of income to test if they are under a certain amount. If they are under that amount, you will get Jobseeker’s Allowance. The amount of Jobseeker’s Allowance you get depends on your income level.
In the means test for Jobseeker’s Allowance, your household income is assessed. If you are married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting, the DSP also assesses your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant’s income. Sometimes a certain amount of income, or income from certain sources, are not taken into account. This is called an ‘income disregard’.
The means test examines the following types of income:
- Cash income (including income from work)
- Property that you personally use
- Capital (savings and investments) and property that you don’t personally use
- Benefit and privilege from living with your parents
The means test assesses all cash income that you expect to get in the next 12 months. If it is not possible to estimate your income over the next 12 months, it is usually based on the income you received in the previous year.
Cash income that is assessed includes:
- Income from self-employment
- Income from employment
- Farm income
- Income from a social security pension from another country
- Income from maintenance, for example, if you are separated.
Most social welfare payments are not taken into account. The maintenance grant provided under the Student Grant Scheme is also not taken into account as means.
Find out more about cash income not included in the means test.
Property you personally use
The house you live in is not included in the means test, unless you are getting an income from it.
If you are getting Jobseeker’s Allowance, you can get up to €269.23 a week (€14,000 per year) for renting out a room in your own home without it affecting your payment. This does not apply if you are renting to an employee or an immediate family member. If you get any rental income over €14,000 per year, it will be assessed.
You can read more about how property you live in is assessed in the means test for social welfare payments.
Capital and property not personally used
Capital includes property, savings and investments. It does not include the home you live in.
If you own property, or have investments, or any other form of capital, the value is assessed using a standard formula (see below), whether or not you are getting an income from the property or investment.
If you rent out your property, your rental income will not be assessed. Any outstanding mortgage registered against the property is deducted from the market value to find the capital value.
The property and investments that may be assessed include:
- Savings in a bank account (or anywhere else)
- A pension lump sum payment
- A house that you rent out
- Stocks and shares
If you or your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant saves a portion of your social welfare payment each week, these savings (as well as savings from most other sources) will be taken into account for the means test.
The formula for assessing the value of capital including property (but not your own home), savings and investments is as follows:
|Weekly means assessed
|€1 per €1,000
|€2 per €1,000
|€4 per €1,000
If you have a joint account with your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant, legally the total amount in the account is owned by each of you. So, it can be assessed in full against each of you. However, if you are both getting means-tested payments, your joint account will be assessed on a shared basis or against only one of you.
If you have €55,000 savings:
The first €20,000 is assessed as nil, €20,000 to €30,000 is assessed as €10, €30,000 to €40,000 is assessed as €20, €40,000 and €55,000 is assessed as €60.
€10 + €20 + €60 = €90
Savings of €55,000 gives a means of €90 per week.
Living with your parents
If you are under 25 and live 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.
This is called an assessment of the benefit and privilege you get from living with your parents. Find more information on how benefit and privilege is assessed in the means test.
To find your total means, the DSP adds your means from the sources above together (for example, cash income, employment, capital, benefit and privilege).
They will deduct (take away) your total household means from the maximum payment for your situation (see below) to find how much Jobseeker’s Allowance you can get.
Maximum payment for your situation
The maximum payment you can get is the maximum personal rate of Jobseeker's Allowance, including any increases for adult and child dependants. However, if you are married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting and your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant is getting their own social welfare payment, your joint means are halved.
If they are getting their own social welfare payment, your maximum payment will not include an increase for an adult dependant and will only include half-rate increases for your child dependants - see 'Couples' below.
Age and maximum payment
If you are under 25, the maximum payment you can get depends on your age and some other criteria. Read more about JA rate for people under 25.
If your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant is getting their own social welfare payment in their own right (except Child Benefit, Disablement Pension, guardian's payments, Supplementary Welfare Allowance, Domiciliary Care Allowance or half-rate Carer's Allowance), or if they are on a Further Education and Training (FET) or VTOS course and getting a payment, you cannot get an Increase for a Qualified Adult for them.
This means that the maximum you can be paid is the maximum Jobseeker’s Allowance payment for a single person, plus a half-rate allowance for each qualified child. Your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant will also get a half-rate payment for each qualified child with their payment.
Only half (50%) of your combined means are taken into account in the means test for your Jobseeker’s Allowance – this means your combined means are halved. The other half will be taken into account in the means test for your partner's payment, if your partner is getting a means-tested payment.
If your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant started a CE scheme in 2023, your joint means are halved. The maximum payment for your situation will not include an increase for an adult dependant. It will include full rate increases for your child dependants.
If your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant started their CE scheme before 1 January 2023, your maximum payment will include an increase for an adult dependant and any child dependents. Joint means are not halved and CE income is assessed as part-time work.
If you are claiming Jobseeker's Allowance and your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant is getting one of the social welfare payments listed below, the total amount paid to you as a couple cannot be more than the maximum amount that would be paid to one person (including adult and child dependants) on one social welfare payment.
- Illness Benefit
- Disablement Pension (when paid with Illness Benefit or Incapacity Supplement)
- Injury Benefit
- Invalidity Pension
- State Pension (Non-Contributory)
- State Pension (Contributory)
- State Pension (Transition)
- Jobseeker's Benefit
- Jobseeker's Allowance
- Farm Assist (FA)
If you are both claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, the rate paid to each person is half of the family rate. If either of you is under 25, each person is paid half of the family rate that would apply to them individually.
|Example of limitation (2024)
Paul is 36 and qualifies for Jobseeker’s Allowance. His partner Anna is getting Invalidity Pension.
Anna and Paul have chosen Anna's Invalidity Pension as the primary payment rather than Paul's Jobseeker's Allowance because Invalidity Pension is paid at a higher weekly rate.
Anna on Invalidity Pension (IP) €237.50
Maximum payable to Anna and Paul €407.20
In this case Paul's JA payment is reduced to €169.70 and Anna is paid the full amount of IP.
Paul will get Jobseeker’s Allowance of €169.70
You can also find more information in the Department of Social Protection’s Operational Guidelines about: