Jobseeker's Allowance

Jobseeker’s Allowance is for people under State Pension age who are unemployed but able to work. If you have cancer and you are looking for work, you may be able to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance.

What is Jobseeker’s Allowance?

Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) is for people under State Pension age who are unemployed, but able to work. It gives you a weekly income while you look for work. 

There are different types of JSA. Most claims are now for new-style JSA, but there are exceptions if you are severely disabled.

Find out more about other benefits and financial support.

Can I claim Jobseeker’s Allowance?

You can claim JSA if you are:

  • aged 18 or over
  • under State Pension age
  • not in full-time education
  • not working, or working less than 16 hours a week on average
  • fit for work
  • available for work and actively looking for work.

In Northern Ireland, you cannot claim JSA if you are in certain types of education or getting certain other benefits. Contact a welfare rights adviser for more information.

What is new-style Jobseeker’s Allowance?

New-style JSA is for people who have paid enough National Insurance, usually in the last 2 to 3 years.

Advisers at your local Jobcentre Plus or Northern Ireland Social Security for Jobs and Benefits office, will help you with your job search.

Depending on your situation, you may also be entitled to other benefits, such as help with council tax or rates, or Universal Credit. If you qualify for both new-style JSA and Universal Credit, your JSA will lower your Universal Credit payment by the same amount.

New-style JSA lasts for 6 months. After this, you may qualify for Universal Credit if your income and savings are below a certain level. If you get tax credits or Housing Benefit, these payments will stop when you apply for Universal Credit. It is a good idea to speak to a welfare rights adviser about what is best for your situation.

How do I claim Jobseeker’s Allowance?

If you live in England, Scotland or Wales, you can apply online, by phone or through your local Jobcentre Plus. To find out more go to You must attend an interview with an adviser at your local Jobcentre Plus. 

If you live in Northern Ireland, you can apply through your local Social Security or Jobs and Benefits office. You must attend an interview with an adviser at the office. To learn more or find your nearest office, visit

About our information

  • Reviewers

    This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been reviewed by Macmillan professionals and people living with cancer. It has been approved by Sean Conroy, Macmillan Welfare Rights and Energy Advice Team Service Manager.

    Our cancer information has been awarded the PIF TICK. Created by the Patient Information Forum, this quality mark shows we meet PIF’s 10 criteria for trustworthy health information.