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Section 8 - Jobseekers Supports

This section outlines the two main social welfare payments available to people who are unemployed. It covers

  • Jobseeker�s Benefit,
  • Jobseeker�s Allowance,
  • Optional Jobseeker�s Allowance, and
  • Working while receiving a jobseeker�s payment.


8.1 Applying for an Jobseeker's payment

8.2 How do I qualify for Jobseeker's Benefit or Allowance?

8.3 How much can I get?

8.4 How do I get my payment?

8.5 Can I work while getting an Jobseeker's payment?

8.6 Optional Jobseeker's Allowance (JA)

8.7 Extra benefits

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8.1 Applying for an Jobseeker's payment

If you are unemployed you may qualify for Jobseeker's Benefit (JB) or Jobseeker's Allowance (JA). Jobseeker's Benefit is based on your social insurance record and Jobseeker's Allowance on your weekly means.

To apply for JB or JA, you should go to your local Social Welfare Office on the first day you are unemployed. The addresses of the various Social Welfare Offices are listed in Appendix 2.

You will need to bring the following documents with you when applying for JB or JA:

  • Birth Cert or passport,
  • supporting identification, for example, driving licence or bank book,
  • recent evidence of address such as a household bill in your name, correspondence from a financial institution etc.
  • if you were employed, your P45 or a letter from your employer confirming that you have stopped working and the reason why.

Apply for a Jobseeker's payment on the first day of unemployment, even if you do not have all the necessary documents. If you delay in applying you may lose some payment.

8.2 How do I qualify for Jobseeker's Benefit or Allowance?

The basic conditions for Jobseeker's Benefit or Allowance are that, at all times, you are:

  • unemployed (for at least 3 days in any 6 consecutive days),
  • over age 18 for Jobseeker's Allowance,
  • under age 66,
  • capable of work,
  • available for full-time work, and
  • genuinely seeking work.

For Jobseeker's Benefit you must have lost at least one day's insurable employment, including a loss of income.

For Jobseeker's Allowance you must satisfy the Habitual Residence Condition (HRC). See information booklet SW 108 for more information.

You must also satisfy other conditions for each payment. See over for details of these conditions.

8.3 How much can I get?

Your payment is made up of a personal rate for yourself with extra amounts for a qualified adult and any qualified children.

If you get one of the following payments you may qualify for half the personal rate of JB , but no increase for any qualified children:

  • One-Parent Family Payment,
  • Widow's or Widower's Contributory Pension,
  • Widow's or Widower's Non-Contributory Pension,
  • Deserted Wife's Benefit or Allowance, or
  • Prisoner's Wife's Allowance.

If your spouse or partner works and their income is low you may still qualify for a payment for them. If you qualify for Jobseeker's Allowance, a certain amount of your spouse's or partner's earnings will not be taken into account when assessing your means.

8.4 How do I get my payment?

You may get Jobseeker's Allowance or Jobseeker's Benefit each week in arrears by direct payment into an account in a financial institution, by cheque or by postal draft, which you can collect in a post office using a swipe card.

Jobseeker's Benefit

You must meet the conditions in Section 8.2 and your Jobseeker's Benefit is based on your PRSI contributions. To qualify, you must have:

  • 52 paid PRSI contributions since starting work,

  • 39 paid or credited PRSI contributions in the relevant tax year

  • 26 paid PRSI contributions in the relevant tax year and 26 paid PRSI contributions in the tax year before the relevant tax year.

The relevant tax year is the second last complete tax year before the start of the benefit year in which you get your payment. The benefit year starts on the first Monday in January.

PRSI contributions at Classes A, H and P count.

If you apply in:

The relevant Tax Year is:





Jobseeker's Allowance (JA)

Jobseeker's Allowance is a means-tested payment. To qualify, you must meet the conditions in section 8.2 and pass a means test. A means test is a way of checking if you have enough means to support yourself and if you qualify for a payment.

Your means include:

  • cash income belonging to you or your spouse or partner,
  • the value of any savings, investments, shares or land,
  • any property you may have (other than your own home), and
  • maintenance paid to you if you are separated.

A social welfare inspector may interview you about your means, and ask you for documents such as statements from your financial institution.

If you are living with a parent or step-parent in the family home and aged over 18 and under 25 years you may be assessed on the benefit and privilege derived from their income.

How savings and investments are assessed

When working out your means from savings and investments, we add together the following items and use a formula to work out your means:

  • cash value of investment and property (other than your own home),
  • money in a financial institution,
  • cash-in-hand, and
  • income from an occupational pension or social security benefits from another country.


Weekly Means Assessed:

First �20,000


�20,000 - �30,000

�1 per �1,000

�30,000 - �40,000

�2 per �1,000

Over �40,000

�4 per �1,000

8.5 Can I work while getting an Jobseeker's payment?

You may do some work and receive some Jobseeker's Benefit or Jobseeker's Allowance as long as you meet the other conditions of each payment.

Working and Jobseeker's Benefit

Your weekly Jobseeker's Benefit is normally paid for up to 6 days a week. For example, if you work 2 days a week, you may get JB for the other 4 days. However, see systematic short-time working below.

Systematic short-time working

If your normal working week is reduced, you may get JB for the days you do not work. However, the total number of days at work and on JB cannot be more than 5 in a week. For example, if you are on a 3 day week, you may get JB only for the other 2 days.

Working and Jobseeker's Allowance

You may receive a reduced Jobseeker's Allowance payment if you work part-time or casually for up to 3 days a week. We work out the payment as follows:

  • We work out your assessable earnings for means purposes. Assessable earnings are gross earnings less deductions for PRSI, superannuation (including AVC's and PRSA's) and union dues. A disregard of �20 a day applies for each day worked up to a maximum of 3 days (�60) and we assess 60% of the remainder as your means. For example if you work 3 days a week and your assessable earnings are �200 a week, your weekly means are �84 (�200 - �60 = �140, 140 x 60% = �84). The rate payable is the weekely Jobseeker's Allowance rate leass your means.
Self-employment and Jobseeker's Allowance

If you are self-employed, you may qualify for Jobseeker's Allowance, depending on your level of income. From 1st January 2007 self-employed Jobseeker Allowance customers may be liable to pay PRSI contributions on their self-employed income. A self-employed Jobseeker Allowance customer who does not have a liability to pay PRSI may become a voluntary contributor if he/she meets certain conditions. If you are a self-employed farmer on a low income, you should apply for Farm Assist. See Section 9.2 for details

8.6 Optional Jobseeker's Allowance (JA)

You may opt to get JA instead of JB if you qualify for both.

This option may benefit you if:

  • you were on a Community Employment Scheme before applying,
  • you only qualify for a reduced rate of JB, you are working casually,
  • you were getting JA in the year immediately before your JB claim,

  • you have an entitlement to Long Term JA and have children between the ages of 18 and 22 in full-time education.
Points To Note


If you exhaust your entitlement to Jobseeker's Benefit and do not qualify for Jobseeker's Allowance, you may sign for credited contributions. See Section 2.8 for full details of credits.

8.7 Extra benefits

If you are getting Jobseeker's Benefit or Allowance or Pre-Retirement Allowance, you may also get:

  • Rent or Mortgage Interest Supplement,
  • Fuel Allowance,
  • Smokeless Fuel Allowance,
  • Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance,
  • Medical Card,
  • School Book Grant Scheme.  - Department of Education and Science, Cornamaddy, Athlone, Co. Westmeath. Telephone (090) 6483600.

These are explained in Sections 10 and 11.

Last modified:22/04/2009

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