Jobseeker's Allowance


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Introduction

If you are aged 18 or over and unemployed, you may be paid either Jobseeker's Allowance (JA) or Jobseeker's Benefit (JB). Both payments are paid by the Department of Social Protection (DSP).

You may get Jobseeker's Allowance if you don't qualify for Jobseeker's Benefit or if you have used up your entitlement to Jobseeker's Benefit. In some cases, if you are only entitled to a reduced rate of Jobseeker's Benefit you may be better off on Jobseeker's Allowance. However, Jobseeker's Allowance is means-tested and your means must be below a certain level to qualify.

You must be unemployed to get Jobseeker’s Allowance. You must also be capable of, available for, and genuinely seeking work to qualify for Jobseeker’s Allowance – and you must be able to show evidence of this to the Department of Social Protection. However, you may get a proportion of your Jobseeker’s Allowance if your days at work are reduced or if you can only get part-time or casual work. Income from work affects the amount of Jobseeker’s Allowance you get. Find out more about how income from work is assessed for Jobseeker’s Allowance.

There is an exemption from some of the rules for retained firefighters. People who had been getting a One-Parent Family Payment and who no longer qualify because their youngest child has reached the age limit can qualify for a special payment called Jobseeker's Allowance Transition.

You can use a new Benefit of Work Ready Reckoner from the Department of Social Protection to help you assess out 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 what you are getting in jobseeker payments (including Rent Supplement).

Budget 2014

From 15 January 2014 reduced age-related rates of Jobseeker's Allowance took effect. Jobseeker’s Allowance (JA) claimants without children aged between 18 and 24 receive €100 per week. JA claimants without children aged 25 receive €144 a week. This weekly €144 rate will increase to €188 when they reach 26 years of age. (The previous rates were €100 a week for people aged between 18 and 22 and €144 for people aged between 22 and 24.)

People aged between 18 and 26 who were getting a higher rate will not have their rate reduced. However, the new age bands will apply to their payment as they reach the relevant age. So, for example, a person who was getting €100 a week in 2013 who turns 22 after 15 January 2014 will stay on their original €100 payment until they turn 25 and a person who was getting an age-related payment of €144 in 2013 will remain on that rate until they turn 26.

These reduced rates of Jobseeker’s Allowance will apply to people aged 25 and under who have exhausted their entitlement to Jobseeker’s Benefit.

The HSE care provision for people getting JA was also extended to age 24 for new claims taken on or after 15 January 2014. So, for example, a person who applies for JA after 15 January 2014 and is aged between 18-24 will get a rate of €188 because they were in the care of the HSE during their 17th year.

New provisions for older jobseekers

The Department of Social Protection is putting new administrative provisions in place to ease the transition from the labour force into retirement. From 1 January 2014, if you are claiming Jobseeker’s Benefit or Allowance and are aged 62 or over, the following will apply:

  • You will no longer be required to engage with the activation process and you will not be subject to penalty rates for non-engagement
  • You can voluntarily avail of a range of supports (for example, training or employment support programmes) from the Department of Social Protection

In addition, most jobseekers aged 62 or over will be placed on a yearly signing arrangement with their local social welfare office (this means that they do not need to sign on regularly) and most will be transferred to Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) payments so payment can be made directly into their bank account. Certain categories of older jobseekers may be required to engage more frequently with their local social welfare office. For example, casual jobseekers of 62 and older must continue to submit weekly dockets of their work patterns.

Note that to qualify for either Jobseeker’s Benefit or Allowance you must be genuinely seeking work and be available for full-time employment and these conditions will continue to apply to older jobseekers.

Intreo - the integrated employment and support service

Intreo is a new service from the Department of Social Protection which will provide a single point of contact for all employment and income supports. Currently Intreo is available in 43 Department of Social Protection offices. More Intreo centres are due to open during 2014. Details of new locations will be published on welfare.ie.

Rules

To get Jobseeker's Allowance you must:

  • Be unemployed (you must be fully unemployed or unemployed for at least 4 days out of 7)
  • Be over 18 and under 66 years of age
  • Be capable of work
  • Be available for and genuinely seeking work
  • Satisfy the means test
  • Meet the Habitual Residence Condition

Unemployed

To get Jobseeker’s Allowance you must be unemployed. However, there are circumstances in which you can do some work and get Jobseeker’s Allowance. You can also take up to two weeks holiday in a year and continue to get your payment.

Part-time or casual work

If you get part-time or casual work (up to and including 3 days per week), you may still be paid a proportion of your Jobseeker's Allowance. However, you must show that you are trying to get full-time employment.

If you have been getting long-term Jobseeker's Allowance (over 390 days or 15 months) and you take up part-time work for less than 24 hours a week you may be eligible for the Part-time Job Incentive Scheme (PTJI). This scheme allows you to take up part-time work and get a special weekly allowance instead of your jobseeker’s payment.

Reduced days at work

If your employer reduces your days at work to 3 days week or less, you may get Jobseeker's Allowance for the other days. You must meet the other conditions that apply to Jobseeker's Allowance, for example, you must satisfy a means test.

Lay off

A lay-off situation arises where your employer is unable to provide work for you, but believes this to be a temporary situation and tells you this before the work finishes. If you are laid off work you may get Jobseeker’s Allowance. You will not get Jobseeker’s Allowance for any day you are getting holiday pay.

Self-employment

If you are self-employed, you may be entitled to Jobseeker's Allowance, depending on your income from your business. You can find out out more about self-employment and unemployment on selfemployedsupports.ie. Self-employed farmers on a low income should apply for Farm Assist.

Voluntary work

You may be able to do voluntary work and continue to get Jobseeker's Allowance. You must continue to satisfy the conditions of the payment, which means that you must be available and looking for work. You must also get permission from a Deciding Officer at your social welfare local office or Intreo centre. Find out more about voluntary work and social welfare payments.

On strike

If you are on strike, you will not be considered unemployed and will not get Jobseeker's Allowance. However, if you are out of work as a result of a strike, for example, you have been laid off because of the strike, you may get Jobseeker's Allowance. You may get Jobseeker's Allowance if you are "not participating in or directly interested in the trade dispute which caused the stoppage at work".

If you are on strike your family may get Supplementary Welfare Allowance.

Capable of work

You are capable of work unless you can produce medical evidence to prove that you are not able to work. If you have spent some time incapable of work you must produce a final medical certificate to prove that you are now fit for work. If you are ill and incapable of work you may be entitled to Disability Allowance or Illness Benefit. If you are pregnant you are considered to be capable of work unless you have complications during your pregnancy or you are ill. You can read more in our document on 'Pregnancy and social welfare payments'.

Available for work

The Department of Social Protection’s Operational Guidelines state that you are considered available for employment, if:

  • You state that you are available for work
  • You do all that is asked to show compliance with this availability condition
  • There is no evidence to suggest the contrary

Essentially the Department of Social Protection considers that you are available for employment if you are prepared to accept any offers of suitable employment immediately.

However you can be regarded as not being available for work and therefore not entitled to Jobseeker's Allowance if you put unreasonable restrictions on the following:

  • The nature of the employment
  • The hours of work
  • The rate of pay
  • The duration of the employment
  • The location of the employment

If a Deciding Officer thinks that that you have placed unreasonable restrictions, you will be interviewed and given the opportunity to respond. Note that if you refuse a suitable offer of work you can be disqualified from Jobseeker’s Allowance. If you are looking after a sick or elderly person you may be entitled to Carer's Allowance.

You can read more about the available for work condition in the Department of Social Protection’s Operational Guidelines. See also 'Further information' below.

Genuinely looking for work

You must also show that you are genuinely looking for work. The Operational Guidelines state that a day is not treated as a day of unemployment unless on that day you are genuinely seeking suitable work.

You must be able to show that you are making genuine efforts to secure employment. You need to provide examples of such steps. Steps which would indicate that you are considered to be genuinely seeking work may include:

  • Making oral or written applications for work
  • Looking for information on the availability of employment from employers, advertisements and employment agencies
  • Taking up reasonable training opportunities
  • Acting on the advice given by a Job Facilitator or other placement agency such as the Local Employment Service (LES)
  • Taking positive, well advised steps towards establishing yourself in self-employment such as researching possible areas of self-employment
  • Preparing business plans for a self-employment project
  • Attending relevant "start your own business" courses or seeking information, advice or guidance in relation to any of these steps

You can read more about the genuinely looking for work condition in the Department of Social Protection's Operational Guidelines.

Means test

Jobseeker's Allowance is a means-tested payment. Your means must be below a certain level to get Jobseeker’s Allowance. A means test looks at all your sources of income including your spouse’s, civil partner’s or cohabitant's. However, some income may not be taken into account. (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.)

Your total household means is deducted from the maximum payment for your household's circumstances (usually this is the personal rate including any increases for adult and child dependants) to find the actual amount of Jobseeker’s Allowance you are entitled to. Find out more about the means test for Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Your means are halved if your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant is getting a social welfare payment in his or her own right* or is on a SOLAS or VTOS course and getting an allowance. If your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant is getting a payment in his or her own right you will not get an Increase for a Qualified Adult but you will get a half-rate increase for each qualified child.

*Except for Child Benefit, Domiciliary Care Allowance, Disablement Pension, Guardian's Payment, Supplementary Welfare Allowance and half-rate Carer's Allowance.

You can claim an increase for your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant while they are taking part in a Community Employment (CE) scheme. Their earnings from the scheme are assessed in the same way as earnings from insurable employment (and your combined means are not halved).

If you are 24 years of age or under and you are living 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. The Department call this an assessment of the 'benefit andprivilege' you get from living with your parents. Find out more about how living with your parents is assessed in the means test.

Spouse, civil partner or cohabitant working

If your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant works or is taking part in a Community Employment (CE scheme) it can affect your Jobseeker's Allowance. Their earnings from insurable employment are assessed in the same way as your earnings from part-time or casual work. Find out more about work and Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Disqualification and reduction in payment

You may be disqualified from getting Jobseeker's Allowance for 9 weeks if you:

  • Left work voluntarily and without just cause
  • Lost your job through misconduct
  • Refused an offer of suitable alternative employment or suitable training

Suitable employment does not include employment in a job that is vacant because of a trade dispute. In addition, the employment must be suitable, having regard to your age, sex, physique, education, normal occupation, where you live, rate of pay offered and your family circumstances.

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.

Students

If you have just left school you cannot get Jobseeker's Allowance. To get Jobseeker's Allowance you must have been out of school for three months and you must be at least 18 years of age.

Third-level students cannot claim Jobseeker's Allowance or Benefit while they are studying full-time. This disqualification also applies to the summer holiday periods between academic years (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 employment or training

The Department of Social Protection operates a fast-tracking system for people who sign off a jobseeker's payment to take up work for a short period (up to 8 weeks) or to go on a short training course (up to 8 weeks). This ensures that your payment is re-instated without delay. It is important that you inform your local social welfare office in advance that you are taking up work or training. Your Rent Supplement or Mortgage Interest Supplement claim can also be suspended for up to 8 weeks.

Work experience for jobseekers

JobBridge, the National Internship Scheme provides work experience for people who have been getting a jobseeker’s payment or signing for credits for at least 3 months. See our document on JobBridge. The Work Placement Programme provides 9 months’ work experience for graduates and other unemployed people. For more information contact your local employment services office.

Rates

Jobseeker's Allowance rates in 2014

Maximum rate for people aged 26 or over
New and existing claimants Personal rate Increase for a qualified adult Increase for a qualified child
Maximum rate €188 €124.80 €29.80
Maximum rate for people under 26 without children
Age Personal rate Increase for a qualified adult
18 - 24 €100 €100
25 €144 €124.80

The reduced personal and qualified adult rates of Jobseeker’s Allowance (JA) for claimants under 26 do not apply to:

  • Claimants with dependent children
  • People transferring from Disability Allowance to JA
  • People aged 22-25 who were getting a higher rate before 15 January 2014 (see Existing claimants below)
  • People whose claim is linked to a previous JA claim made within the previous 12 months to which the maximum personal rate applied
  • Certain children who were in the care of the HSE during the 12 months before reaching 18. These people are assessed using the JA rate for people aged 26 or over. This exception only applies between the ages of 18 and 24. From the age of 25, the age-related rate applies.

If you were getting a age-related reduced rate of JA and you take part in a course of education, training, Community Employment, Rural Social Scheme or Tús, the reduced personal rate of payment applicable to that course or scheme will apply as long as you are aged under 26. When you complete the course you will revert to your previous age-related JA rate.

From 1 January 2014 all new Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) participants aged under 26 who were getting a reduced age-related Jobseeker’s Allowance payment, will get a maximum BTEA rate of €160 per week (any means participants have will be deducted from this rate).

Existing claimants before 15 January 2014

There are no reductions in rates for existing claimants aged between 18 and 25 who were getting a higher rate before the changes on 15 January 2014. (People aged 18-21 got €100, people aged 22-24 got €144 and at 25 the full personal JA rate was payable.) However their payments will increase in line with the new rates.

For example, John turned 22 on 5 January 2014. He has been claiming JA since January 2013 and his rate increased from €100 to €144 on 5 January 2014. John can continue to get a rate of €144. If John continues to claim JA his rate will increase to €188 on his 26th birthday.

Mary is aged 21 and was getting a JA payment of €100 before 15 January 2014. She will turn 22 on 2 March 2014. Mary will continue to get a rate of €100. If Mary continues to claim JA her rate will increase to €144 on her 25th birthday and to €188 on her 26th birthday.

Payments for dependants

If you qualify for Jobseeker’s Allowance 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 you may have.

Child dependants
A 'child dependant' is usually a child up to 18 years of age who lives with you.

If you are getting a Jobseeker’s Allowance for at least 156 days and your child is in full-time education, an Increase for a Qualified Child (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.

You will only get a half-rate IQC if you and your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant 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, civil partner or cohabitant). If you are single, widowed, divorced, separated, a former civil partner or not living with your civil partner, and living with a person aged 16 or over, you can claim an IQC for them but only if he or she is caring for a child dependant of yours. See also 'Means test' above.

Getting paid

You can collect your Jobseeker’s Allowance payment weekly from your nearest Post Office.

You must bring valid photographic identification (photo ID) with you to collect your payment. The following is considered to be valid photo ID:

  • Public Services Card
  • Driving licence
  • Passport
  • GNIB card
  • EU/EEA nationals may use a National Identity Card

Staff working in the Post Office may ask to see your photo ID before giving you your payment.

Other benefits

See Extra benefits with your Jobseeker's Allowance at the end of this document.

How to apply

You should apply for Jobseeker's Allowance 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 three days of your claim.

Jobseeker's Allowance application forms are available online. You can also get an application form at your social welfare local office or Intreo centre. You will need to bring certain documents to prove your claim. You may find this list of documents you need when you apply for Jobseeker's Allowance useful.

You can get help with filling in your application form at your social welfare local office or nearest Citizens Information Centre.

More information about applying for Jobseeker's Allowance is available in our document about signing on for the first time.

Where to apply

Apply for Jobseeker's Allowance at your social welfare local office or Intreo centre.

If you think you have been wrongly refused Jobseeker's Allowance you can appeal the decision.

Further information

Unavailable for work

You can be regarded as not being available for work and not entitled to Jobseeker's Allowance (JA) or Jobseeker's Benefit (JB) if you put unreasonable restrictions on the following:

  • The nature of the employment
  • The hours of work
  • The rate of pay
  • The duration of the employment
  • The location of the employment

In any case where a Deciding Officer is of the opinion that you have placed unreasonable restrictions, you will be interviewed and given the opportunity to respond.

For example, you are considered unavailable for work in the following circumstances:

  • You are looking for a particular type of work only
  • If you state that you are looking for part-time work only. However, if you cannot get suitable full-time employment, you can still accept part-time work.
  • If you are in part-time employment and getting an unemployment payment you must show that you are trying to get full-time employment
  • If you are only available during hours which are not typical of the employment you are looking for, for example, looking for clerical office work in evenings only
  • If you are unwilling to take up an offer of reasonable short-time employment, for example, relief work or employment under a short-term contract
  • If you move to a location where your prospects of getting suitable employment are significantly reduced. However, the reasons for the move will be taken into account. You can move under a resettlement programme and still claim JA.
  • If you are placing unreasonable restrictions on the distance which you are willing to travel to find work. However, access to public and private transport is taken into account.
  • You may also be asked about your responsibilities at home, for example, who is looking after your child dependents. This question must be asked of both male and female applicants. Other circumstances in which you could be considered unavailable for work include: if you are ill, or if you are looking after a sick or elderly person.

If you are ill and not capable of work you may be entitled to Disability Allowance. If you are getting Jobseeker's Benefit and become ill you may be entitled to Illness Benefit. If you are looking after a sick or elderly person you may be entitled to Carer's Allowance.

Special provisions regarding availability

There are legislative provisions specifying the circumstances in which a person may be deemed to be available for work or is exempted from the requirement to be available for work:

Night workers: When you are employed to work continuously from one day through to another, the general rule is that the day on which the shorter number of hours is worked is treated as a day of unemployment. You are also deemed to be available for work on that day.

Rehabilitation training: You are considered to be available for work on any day you are participating in a course of rehabilitation training provided by an organisation approved by the Minister for Health and Children for that purpose.

Courses of education, training or development: You are deemed to be available for work while participating in a course of education, training or development approved by the Minister of Social Protection provided that you are at least 21 years of age, you are getting JA or JB for at least 6 months (156 days) and you have given notice of your intention to participate in the course. The course chosen must enhance your employment prospects. Courses may be approved by the Department's Job Facilitators or by Back to Education Schemes Section.

Extra benefits with your Jobseeker's Allowance

If you are getting Jobseeker's Allowance, you may be entitled to:

Rent Supplement - a payment that helps with the cost of your rent.

Fuel Allowance - a weekly payment between October and April to help with fuel costs. Fuel Allowance is payable to people who have been getting a jobseeker’s payment for 390 days, if they satisfy the relevant qualifying conditions. Days of unemployment on Jobseeker's Benefit count towards the 390 days if the Jobseeker’s Benefit claim was immediately before the award of Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance - a payment designed to help towards the cost of uniforms and footwear for children who are attending school. The scheme is payable between June and September each year - contact your local health centre.

Medical card - if your income is below certain level, you may get a medical card. It covers you for free doctor care, prescriptions, etc. - contact your local health office.

School Books Grant Scheme - each year, the Department of Education and Skills provides grants to primary, secondary and comprehensive schools towards the cost of schoolbooks for students in financial need. You should contact the school principal for more information. The school principal will also advise you whether the school runs a book loan scheme, whereby your children's books are provided for a nominal rental charge each year.

You do not qualify for the Household Benefits Package or Free Travel with Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Last modified:13/02/2014
 

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