Jobseeker's Allowance

Introduction

If you are unemployed, you can apply for Jobseeker’s Allowance (JA) or Jobseeker's Benefit (JB).

You can apply for JA, if you have been on JB and your payment has ended. You can also apply for JA, if you are only entitled to a reduced rate of JB and would be better off on JA (this is known as Optional JA.)

Jobseeker’s Allowance is a means-tested payment, so your income must be below a certain amount to get JA.

If you are parenting alone, you can apply for the Jobseeker’s Transitional payment (JST). It provides support to lone parents who have young children aged between 7 and 13.

Budget 2021

From January 2021, the weekly rate for a qualified child will increase for children under 12 by €2 from €36 to €38. It will increase for children aged 12 and over by €5 from €40 to €45.

COVID-19 (coronavirus)

During the coronavirus restrictions, people on jobseeker’s payments do not have to sign on at Intreo offices.

If your employment (or self-employment) has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, or if you are sick or caring for someone who is sick, read our document on COVID-19 (coronavirus) and social welfare payments.

You can read our document on Employment rights during the COVID-19 restrictions.

If you have coronavirus symptoms or are medically required to self-isolate, you should apply for COVID-19 enhanced Illness Benefit.

Rules for Jobseeker's Allowance

To get JA, you must be aged 18 or over and under 66. You must also:

  • Be fully unemployed (or work for 3 days a week or less)
  • Be available for full-time work and genuinely seeking work
  • Be capable of work
  • Pass a means test
  • Meet the habitual residence condition

You can get more information on the conditions for getting a jobseeker's payment and employment services for jobseekers.

There are some special provisions for older jobseekers and for pregnant women.

Jobseeker's Allowance and work

To get Jobseeker’s Allowance you must looking for full-time work – and you must be able to show proof of this to the DSP.

If you are working 3 days a week or less, you may get JA for the days when you do not work. However, you must show that you are still trying to get full-time work.

If your employer reduces your days at work to 3 days a week or less, you may get JA for the other days.

You must still meet the other conditions that apply to JA, such as pass the means test. Income from work will affect the amount of JA you get.

If you have been getting long-term JA (for over 15 months or over 390 days) and you take up part-time work for under 24 hours a week, you can apply for the Part-time Job Incentive Scheme (PTJI). This scheme allows you to work part-time and get a special weekly allowance instead of your jobseeker’s payment.

Find out more in our document about how income from work is assessed for Jobseeker’s Allowance.

If you have children and stop claiming JA when you start work, you can apply for a Back to Work Family Dividend.

You can use the Benefit of Work Estimator to find out how starting work could affect your income. It works out the total amount you will get if you take up full-time work and compares this to your jobseeker’s payment.

Self-employment and Jobseeker's Allowance

If you are self-employed, you may be entitled to JA, depending on your income from your business. You can find out more in our document about self-employment and unemployment. Self-employed farmers on a low income can apply for Farm Assist.

Artists and Jobseeker's Allowance

If you are a professional artist on JA, you can be exempt from labour market activation for the first year that you are out of work. This means that you do not have to show that you are looking for work. It allows professional artists who are getting JA to focus on their artistic work. The Department of Social Protection (DSP) provides a full list of professional art forms covered (pdf).

Means test

Your income must be below a certain level to get Jobseeker’s Allowance.

To find out if your income is low enough to qualify for Jobseeker’s Allowance, the DSP does a means test.

The means test looks at your income, savings, investments and property, but not your own home. It includes your spouse’s, civil partner’s or cohabitant's income. (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.)

However, some income is not be taken into account in the means test.

To find your rate of Jobseeker’s Allowance, the DSP will deduct your total means from the maximum payment for your household (including increases for adult and child dependants).

If your partner works or is taking part in Community Employment (CE scheme), Tús or Gateway, their earnings are assessed in the same way as earnings from any part-time work or casual work. Find out more in our document about work and Jobseeker’s Allowance.

A limitation applies, which means that if you are claiming JA and your partner is getting certain social welfare payments, the total amount paid to you as a couple cannot be more than the maximum amount for one person (including any dependants) on one social welfare payment.

Find out more in our document about the means test for Jobseeker’s Allowance.

If you are 24 or under and living with a parent (or a step-parent) in the family home, the JA means test will assess some of your parents’ income. Find out more in our document about how living with your parents is assessed in the means test.

Disqualification and reduction in payment

You may not be entitled to JA in certain situations. This is known as being disqualified. You could be disqualified from getting JA for up to 9 weeks if you:

  • Left work voluntarily and without just cause
  • Lost your job through misconduct
  • Refused an offer of suitable employment or training and you have been on a penalty rate of JA for at least 21 days

Your payment can be reduced if you do not attend meetings requested by the DSP or if you do not participate in an appropriate employment support scheme, work experience or training (see also ‘Penalty rates’ below).

Read more in our document about sanctions that may apply if you do not fulfil the conditions of your jobseeker's payment.

Holidays and Jobseeker’s Allowance

You can take up to two weeks’ holiday a year on the island of Ireland and continue to get your JA payment. If you travel abroad for a holiday, you must travel in accordance with the general travel advisory from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Read more about travelling abroad and social welfare payments.

Students

If you have just left school, you cannot get Jobseeker's Allowance. To get Jobseeker's Allowance you must be at least 18 and be out of school for 3 months. The 3 month disqualification rule does not apply to Youthreach participants.

If you are a third-level student studying full-time, you cannot claim the dole (JA or JB). You cannot sign on outside term-time, such as during the summer holidays (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.

Short-term work or training

The DSP has a fast-tracking system for people who sign off JA to take up work for a short period (of up to 12 weeks) or to go on a short training course (lasting up to 12 weeks).

You will get your payment again without delay.

You must inform your Intreo Centre or local Social Welfare branch office before you start work or training.

Your Rent Supplement can also be suspended for up to 12 weeks.

Rates

Jobseeker's Allowance rates 2020

Age Maximum personal rate Increase for an adult dependant Increase for a child dependant

From 6 January

Aged 25 and over €203 €134.70 Child aged under 12

€36 (full-rate), €18.50 (half-rate)

Child aged 12 and over

€40 (full-rate), €20 (half-rate)

Aged 18-24 and living independently* €203 €134.70
Aged 18-24 and not living independently €112.70 €112.70 People aged 18-24 with children qualify

for the maximum personal rate €203

*Jobseeker’s Allowance for people aged under 25 is €203, only if the person is living independently and getting a state housing support such as Rent Supplement, Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) or Housing Assistance Payment (HAP).

Reduced personal and qualified adult rates of Jobseeker’s Allowance (JA) for people between 18 and 24 do not apply to:

  • People with dependent children
  • People transferring from Disability Allowance to JA
  • People who were in the care of the Child and Family Agency during the 12 months before reaching 18.

If you were getting an age-related reduced rate of JA and you take part in a course of education, training or an employment support scheme the appropriate personal rate of payment applicable to that course or scheme will apply as long as you are aged under 25. When you complete the course you will go back to your previous age-related JA rate.

All Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) participants aged under 25 who were getting a reduced age-related Jobseeker’s Allowance payment, get a maximum BTEA rate of €203 per week. Any means you have are deducted from this rate.

Penalty rates

Your payment can be reduced if you do not attend meetings when the DSP asks you to. It can also be reduced if you do not take part in an appropriate employment support scheme, work experience or training.

You can find out more in our document about penalties for not meeting the conditions of your jobseeker's payment.

Payments for dependants

If you qualify for JA, 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.

Child dependants

A child dependant is usually a child up to 18 years of age who lives with you. The extra payment for a child dependant is called an Increase for a Qualified Child (IQC).

If you have been getting Jobseeker’s Allowance for at least 156 days and your child is in full-time education, an 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.

If you and your partner are both getting a social welfare payment, you will each get a half-rate IQC.

Adult dependants
You may get an Increase for a Qualified Adult (IQA) for an adult dependant (this is usually your spouse or partner).

You can claim an increase for your partner while they are taking part in a Community Employment (CE),Tús or Gateway scheme. The means test will assess their income from the scheme in the same way as income from a job where they pay PRSI.

If your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant is getting a social welfare payment in his or her own right (with some exceptions) or is on a Further Education and Training (FET) course or VTOS course and getting an allowance you will not get an IQA, but you will get a half-rate increase for any qualified children.

If you live with a person aged 16 or over who is caring for your child dependant, you may be able to get an IQA for them. To apply for this IQA, you must be single, widowed, divorced, separated, a former civil partner or not living with your civil partner.

Getting paid

You collect your JA payment every week, from your nearest post office. You must bring valid photo ID with you to collect it. This can be your:

  • Public Services Card
  • Driving licence
  • Passport
  • Irish Residence Permit card
  • National Identity Card (for EU/EEA citizens)

You may have to show your photo ID to get the payment.

Other benefits

If you are getting JA, you may also get:

  • Rent Supplement - a payment that helps with the cost of your rent.
  • Fuel Allowance - paid between October and April to help with cost of fuel. You can get it if you have been getting JA for 390 days and satisfy the qualifying conditions. Days of unemployment on JB count towards the 390 days if you went straight from JB onto JA without a break.
  • Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance - to help with the cost of uniforms and footwear shoes for children who are attending going to school
  • Medical card - if your income is below a certain level

You do not qualify for the Household Benefits Package or Free Travel with JA.

How to apply

You should apply for Jobseeker's Allowance the first day you become unemployed.

Since 18 March 2020, there are no waiting days for Jobseeker’s Allowance. This is a temporary measure and will apply until the end of 2020.

If you make a late claim, it may be backdated if you provide good evidence for the delay.

More information is available in our document about signing on for the first time.

If you think you have been wrongly refused Jobseeker's Allowance you can appeal the decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office.

If your employment (or self-employment) has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, or if you are sick or caring for someone who is sick, read our document on COVID-19 (coronavirus) and social welfare payments.

Online applications

You can apply for JA online at mywelfare.ie.

After you log in, it will ask you to give some personal and financial information, as well as details of your employment, training and education history. It will also ask you to upload or post any supporting documents that are needed.

To apply online, you must have both:

To find out if your mobile phone number is linked to your Public Services Card, contact your local Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office.

Applying using a paper form

You can get an application form for JA (UP1) at your Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office.

If you are making a repeat claim less than 6 months since your last claim, you complete form UP6 (pdf).

You will need to bring certain documents with you when you apply for Jobseeker's Allowance.

You can get help with filling in your application form at your Intreo Centre, Social Welfare Branch Office or Citizens Information Centre.

Where to apply

You can apply for JA:

Page edited: 14 October 2020