Finding a Job

How to be Unemployed & Claim JSA

Have you found yourself struggling to find work after graduating? In this guide, we answer your questions about the financial support you could claim.

Unemployment is undoubtedly not what you wished for when you graduated from university, but with the economy as it is, finding a job can be much tougher than most graduates imagine.

Of course, one of the biggest problems is the lack of cash. Even just applying for jobs can be a costly business, especially when you have to travel to interviews and turn up dressed to impress.

As you may know you can get financial support in the form of Job Seekers Allowance (JSA).

Some Simple Rules About Claiming JSA

First things first, you should never feel bad about claiming job seekers allowance as a graduate. It’s there to support you while you are looking for a job and as long as you don’t plan to exploit it you shouldn’t feel bad.

Plenty of graduates rely on JSA to support themselves during their job search and many even claim while living at home with parents.

How soon after graduating can you claim JSA?

watchIf you’re out of work, you can apply for Job Seekers Allowance as soon as your uni course ends. Bear in mind that this will be the official end date, and not necessarily your last day at uni.

If you’re not sure what this date is, find out via your faculties service centre. You should claim as soon as possible after this day to ensure you don’t miss out on any payments that you might be due.

Even if you think you can get a job within two weeks of graduating it’s still worth having the JSA as a safety net!

Can you still claim if you’re working part-time?

Yes. If you’re working less than 16 hours per week, then you could still be eligible.

This is great news for many graduates, as it means they can get some experience/money in a part-time role if they’re struggling to find a full-time opportunity, but will still get some financial support to mean that you can live away from home.

What are the other rules around eligibility?

You need to be over 18, not be in full-time education, and live in England, Scotland or Wales. If you’re a recent graduate, it’s likely that you’ll fulfil these criteria (unless you were a child genius and graduated at the age of 17).

What are the different types of payment?

There are two types of payment – income-based and contribution-based.

Income-based is what you’ll receive if you haven’t paid enough National Insurance contributions and you’re on a low income. Your whole household income could affect the amount that you’ll receive, so speaking to a Jobcentre Plus advisor is the best bet for working out if you’re still eligible. Obviously, this could be an issue if you’ve moved back home with your parents and they’re working full-time.

Contribution-based is for those who’ve paid enough contributions. You can only claim this for six months, though you might be able to claim contribution-based afterwards.

How much can you claim?

How much you’ll get depends on your personal circumstances. You could get £56.25, £71 or £111.45 a week. It varies according to your age, your marital status and whether or not you have children. For full details, check out the official website.

The majority of graduates will get the standard rate of around £56.25 a week.

How do you apply?

Applying OnlineYou can apply online or by calling 0800 055 6688. Once you’ve submitted your application, you’ll have to visit your local Jobcentre Plus office to complete your claim.

It’s a fairly painless process, but you need to be sure that all your forms get filled in accurately so you get the payment that you’re entitled to! If you’ve applied online, you should receive the details of your appointment within two working days.

What are the rules?

To claim Jobseekers Allowance, you must be actively seeking work.

You’ll be required to attend a meeting once a fortnight at a Jobcentre Plus office, and you’ll need to provide proof that you’ve been looking for jobs and applying on a regular basis by keeping notes.

The longer you go without getting a job the more you will have to do to prove that you are actively searching for work. You may also have to widen your search in both location and types of jobs (which will be discussed with your advisor).

If you miss an appointment or don’t make an effort to find work, your payments could be stopped.

How will you be paid?

banksThe payments usually go straight into your bank account every two weeks, in arrears. They’re calculated from three days after you make your initial claim.

Should you really claim?

As we said before, there’s a bit of a social stigma surrounding claiming benefits, but you shouldn’t think twice about applying.

We’d strongly advise you to claim if you will not be working. The extra money could really help you with costs such as getting to job interviews or buying suitable clothes, and you could also get some great advice from your Jobcentre Plus advisor.

In the end, it could be difference between you finding a job and staying unemployed! It should of course be viewed as just a short-term arrangement, and finding work should stay at the very top of your agenda.


You may also be able to claim some money for your rent (housing allowance). Find more information on that here.

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