When To Claim Unemployment Benefits (Plus Criteria and FAQs)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 14 September 2022

Published 30 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Unemployment benefits are a way the government assists people who are out of jobs. It's essential for you not to feel ashamed to claim unemployment benefits if you need one. There are different types of unemployment benefits and different situations where you may be eligible to claim one. In this article, we discuss when you can claim unemployment benefits, provide information on the eligibility criteria and answer some frequently asked questions about this topic.

Related: Networking Tips for Job Seekers

When to claim unemployment benefits

Here are some instances where it may be possible for you to claim unemployment benefits:

If you're unemployed

An unemployed person is someone who is without a primary source of income. Usually, a person is considered unemployed if they're over 16 years of age and are actively seeking paid employment. Unemployment can happen either due to being laid off, being fired or resigning from the company. However, eligibility for benefits after resignation differs from the rest. For example, if you left your job voluntarily, you're likely not to receive benefits for about three months unless you can prove that you had an appropriate reason for leaving. One of such appropriate reasons can be, for example, that your job was paying below minimum wage.

If you're on low income

Working part-time at a job when you'd rather be working full-time can result in lower than average income. Full-time work is from 40 hours a week and above so, if you're working less than 16 hours and are available to work full-time, you're considered a job seeker, and it's still possible for you to claim a jobseeker's allowance.

Related: Part-time vs. Full-time: What's the Difference?

If you're temporarily unable to work

It's also possible to claim unemployment benefits if you're temporarily unable to work. A person can be out of work temporarily because of an accident or sickness. Usually, in these cases, a person may receive statutory sick pay from their employer for 28 weeks. However, you may not be able to get this if your pay is insufficient or if the duration of the statutory sick pay has ended. In this case, you can claim the employment and support allowance.

What are unemployment benefits?

Unemployment benefits are benefits received by jobseekers who need support. The government provides this to reduce the financial burden of not having a job. Unemployment benefits are also available to individuals who are considered underemployed. Understanding what these unemployment benefits entail can help you determine if you qualify.

Types of unemployment benefit

Below is a list of some types of unemployment benefits and the eligibility criteria for each:

Jobseeker's allowance (JSA)

A jobseeker allowance is an allowance available for unemployed or underemployed individuals. The two types of job seeker allowance are income-based, replaced by universal credit, and contribution-based. With a JSA, there's a maximum amount available to receive and how much depends on your age. For example, if you're 24 years old or younger, you can receive a weekly amount of up to £59.20. If you're 25 years old or older, you can receive a weekly amount of up to £74.70.

Related: How Much Is the Jobseeker's Allowance?

Child support benefit

If you're responsible for a child, even if they aren't biologically yours, then you're eligible to claim a child support benefit. This benefit is available to assist with the cost of raising children under the age of 16. It's possible to receive government-issued child benefits if your child is between 16 and 20 and still in full-time education. Typically, the allowance for the eldest or only child is £21.15, while the allowance for additional children is £14 per child.

Housing support benefit

A housing benefit is available to assist with your rent when you're unemployed. You can also be eligible for this benefit if you're underemployed and on a low income. Criteria that can disqualify you from receiving this benefit include having savings of over £16,000 or being a full-time student. If you're eligible for a housing benefit, how much you can receive depends on factors such as your household income and if you have a spare room.

Employment and support allowance (ESA)

An employment and support allowance is an allowance for workers who are temporarily out of work due to disability or sickness. You're only eligible for ESA if you're not receiving statutory sick pay from your employer. It's possible to submit your claim for ESA up to three months before you're expected to stop receiving your statutory sick pay. Another eligibility criteria for an ESA is that you be over 16 years and live in England, Wales or Scotland.

Frequently asked questions about unemployment benefits

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions regarding unemployment:

What job can I do?

If you're recently unemployed or trying to get your first job and you're wondering what kind of job you can do, you can take a few steps to find the right one for you. Firstly, you want to consider your skills and qualifications and match them to different job description requirements. There are some standard skills that most jobs require, one of which is teamwork.

You want to ensure to develop such skills and have examples of how you have used them. You can also speak to a career professional who can give you professional advice on the best job available based on your skills and experience.

Related: 11 Top Job Skills: Transferable Skills for Any Industry

How do I apply for jobs?

The first thing to do before applying for any new job is to update your CV and try to make it as impressive as possible. You can then send your CV to professional friends for feedback. After this, then you can begin to search for jobs to apply for on job boards. In applying for any job, you want to ensure that you tailor your CV to include specific requirements in each job description.

For example, not every skill and experience is relevant for every job application. By tailoring your CV and cover letter, you're making your application more relevant, increasing your chances of success.

Related: Bad CV Examples and How To Fix Them (With Tips to Draft a Good CV)

How can I get a job with no experience?

If you're searching for a new job where you lack experience, you can increase your knowledge in the field by taking some short courses online. Sometimes, it may be possible for certifications and further training to compensate for lack of experience, especially for entry-level roles. With some basic knowledge, it can also be possible to get a job without experience in highly in-demand roles.

Another aspect you might want to consider is gaining some experience through internships and voluntary work before seeking full-time paid employment in the field of your choice.

Related: How To Get a Job With No Experience in 5 Helpful Steps

How do I find another job after being laid off?

If your job lays you off from work, you're in a better position to get another job because your termination may not have been your fault. Companies lay off employees for different reasons that are usually unrelated to the employee's behaviour or competence. For this reason, hiring managers are more understanding of the situation.

If you want to find another job after being laid off, it can benefit you to evaluate your career goals and aspirations. You also want to ensure to update your CV and make it more attractive before sending out applications. It can be a good idea to take some time to learn new skills that can contribute to the attractiveness of your CV.

Related: How To Move Forward After Being Laid Off

Do I need to go to university to get a job?

It's not necessary to go to university to get a job. After completing your GCSEs and A-Levels, you can attend an apprenticeship programme that can get you good job opportunities. You can get a job in some healthcare and finance roles through apprenticeships. Alternatively, there are other industries, such as customer service, in which the company provides direct training for the role.

It's also possible for you to develop your knowledge in a field by taking short courses online. If you want to work for yourself, you can do so by increasing your knowledge in the area and working freelance.

Related: GCSE Equivalent Qualifications

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed. This article is based on information available at the time of writing, which may change at any time. Indeed does not guarantee that this information is always up-to-date. Please seek out a local resource for the latest on this topic.

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