Job Seekers Benefit
Jobseeker's Benefit is a weekly payment from the Department of Social and Family Affairs (DSFA) to people who are out of work and covered by social insurance (PRSI). Jobseeker's Benefit was called Unemployment Benefit; the name of the payment changed in 2006. If you don't qualify for Jobseeker's Benefit you may qualify for Jobseeker's Allowance.
Budget 2009 made a number of changes to Jobseeker’s Benefit:
Since 15 October 2008, Jobseeker's Benefit can be paid for a maximum of 12 months (312 days) to people who have at least 260 paid contributions. Jobseeker's Benefit can be paid for a maximum of 9 months (234 days) to people who have less than 260 paid contributions.
In January 2009, there were changes to the number of PRSI contributions needed to qualify for Jobseeker's Benefit - see 'Rules' below. There was also an increase in the earnings limit for a graduated rate of payment - see 'Rates' below.
Job Seekers Benefit - Rules
To qualify for Jobseeker's Benefit you must:
- Be unemployed (you must be fully unemployed or unemployed for at least 3 days in 6)
- Be under 66 years of age
- Have enough social insurance (PRSI) contributions
- Be capable of work
- Be available for and genuinely seeking work
- Have a substantial loss of employment and as a result be unemployed for at least 3 days in 6.
Social insurance (PRSI) contributions
In order to qualify for Jobseeker's Benefit, you must pay Class A, H or P PRSI contributions. Class A is the one paid by most private sector employees. Class H is paid by soldiers, reservists and temporary army nurses, who do not qualify for Jobseeker's Benefit until they have left the army.
- At least 104 weeks PRSI paid since you first started work
- Have 39 weeks PRSI paid or credited in the relevant tax year (a minimum of 13 weeks must be paid contributions*)
- Have 26 weeks PRSI paid in the relevant tax year and 26 weeks PRSI paid in the tax year immediately before the relevant tax year.
*If you do not have 13 paid contributions in the relevant tax year, you must have the 13 contributions paid in any of one the following years:
- The 2 tax years before the relevant tax year
- The last complete tax year
- The current tax year.
The Relevant Tax Year is the second last complete tax year before the year in which your claim is made. So, for claims made in 2010, the Relevant Tax Year is 2008.
There are a number of circumstances in which you will be awarded credited contributions. For example, pre-entry credits are given when you start employment for the first time in your working life. However, you will only qualify for Jobseeker's Benefit when you have 104 contributions actually paid. Credits are also normally awarded while you are getting certain social welfare payments, including Jobseeker's Benefit (provided it is for 6 days), Jobseeker's Allowance or Illness Benefit.
Contributions you have paid in other member states of the EU/EEA will be added to your Irish contributions. If you are applying for Jobseeker's Benefit and need the contributions paid in another EU/EEA country to help you qualify, then your last contribution must have been in Ireland.
Capable of work
You are capable of work unless you can prove otherwise. You must 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 Illness Benefit.
Available for and genuinely seeking work
You must be available for work and actively looking for work to qualify for Jobseeker's Benefit. You may be asked to show evidence that you are actively seeking work. For example, letters showing job applications or failure to get a job.
Unavailable for work
You can be regarded as not being available for work and not entitled to Jobseeker's Benefit, if you put unreasonable restrictions on the following:
- The nature of the employment
- The hours of work
- 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.
If you are looking after a sick or elderly person you may be entitled to Carer's Benefit.
Loss of employment
You must have suffered a substantial loss of employment in any period of six consecutive days in order to be eligible for Jobseeker's Benefit. This means, you must have lost at least one day's employment and as a result of this loss be unemployed for at least 3 days out of 6 days. Your earnings must also have been reduced because of the loss of employment. You may be disqualified from getting Jobseeker's Benefit for 9 weeks if you:
- Left work voluntarily and without a reasonable cause
- Lost your job through misconduct
- Refused an offer of suitable alternative employment or suitable training
- Are aged under 55 and get a redundancy payment of more than €50,000. The exact length of your disqualification (up to nine weeks) will in practice, depend on the precise amount of redundancy payment you received - see below.
Work and Jobseeker's Benefit
To get Jobseeker's Benefit you must be unemployed or have lost at least one day's employment and as a result be unemployed for at least 3 days out of 6 days. You may continue to get Jobseeker's Benefit if you can only find part-time or casual work. More information is available about work and Jobseeker’s Benefit.
If you are under 55 and get a redundancy payment of more than €50,000 you will be disqualified from claiming Jobseeker's Benefit for the following length of time:
|Amount of Redundancy Payment||Period of Disqualification|
|€50,000.00 - €55,000||1 Week|
|€55,000.01 - €60,000||2 Weeks|
|€60,000.01 - €65,000||3 Weeks|
|€65,000.01 - €70,000||4 Weeks|
|€70,000.01 - €75,000||5 Weeks|
|€75,000.01 - €80,000||6 Weeks|
|€80,000.01 - €85,000||7 Weeks|
|€85,000.01 - €90,000||8 Weeks|
|€90,000.01 and over||9 Weeks|
If you are on strike, you are not considered unemployed and not entitled to Jobseeker's Benefit. However, your family may get Supplementary Welfare Allowance.
If you are out of work as a result of a strike (for example you have been laid off), you are however in a different position. You may qualify for Jobseeker's Benefit if you are "not participating in or directly interested in the trade dispute which caused the stoppage at work".
Length of time Jobseeker's Benefit is paid
Since 15 October 2008, you may be paid Jobseeker's Benefit for up to 12 months (312 days), however, there are some exceptions to this. For example, if you were getting Jobseeker's Benefit for at least 6 months (156 days) before 15 October 2008 you can continue to claim Jobseeker's Benefit for up to 15 months (390 days).
Duration of Jobseeker's Benefit payment:
- If you are under 18, you will only get Jobseeker's Benefit for a maximum of 6 months (156 days).
- If you are disqualified from Jobseeker's Benefit for nine weeks, this period will be included in the normal period of entitlement.
- Since 15 October 2008, if you have at least 260 paid contributions, Jobseeker’s Benefit is reduced to 12 months (312 days) for new claimants and people getting Jobseeker’s Benefit for less than 6 months (156 days) on 15 October 2008.
- Since 15 October 2008, if you have less than 260 paid contributions, Jobseeker’s Benefit is reduced to 9 months (234 days) for new claimants and people getting Jobseeker’s Benefit for less than 3 months (78 days) on 15 October 2008.
- If you were getting Jobseeker's Benefit for at least 6 months (156 days) before 15 October 2008 you can claim Jobseeker's Benefit for up to 15 months (390 days).
Re-qualifying for Jobseeker's Benefit
If you have used up your entitlement to Jobseeker's Benefit (JB), you may re-qualify by working and paying the appropriate PRSI contributions for at least 13 weeks. If you are working and getting JB, as in the case of systematic short-time workers and some part-time workers, the 13 weeks paid contributions can begin once you have claimed JB for 156 days.
You must have suffered a substantial loss of employment to re-qualify for JB, unless you are a casual worker. If you have lost your job you will have suffered a substantial loss of employment. If you are a part-time or systematic short-time worker DSFA will look at your pattern of employment over the last 13 weeks or another representative period to find out whether you have suffered a substantial loss of employment.
For example, if you are getting JB and working 3 days each week as a systematic short-time worker or a part-time worker and your employment pattern has not changed during the course of your JB claim, you will not have suffered a substantial loss of employment and will not re-qualify for Jobseeker’s Benefit. However, if your JB claim ends and your 3 day week working week is then reduced to a 2 day week, you will have suffered a substantial loss of employment and may re-qualify for Jobseeker’s Benefit.
Jobseeker's Benefit is not paid for the first 3 days you are unemployed (the first 3 days are any 3 days, not necessarily consecutive, in a period of six consecutive days).
If you are unemployed for a second time within 26 weeks of your last JB payment your application for Jobseeker's Benefit is not treated as a new claim and you do not have another 3 days of non-payment.
Weekly Jobseeker's Benefit payment in 2010:
|Average weekly earnings||Personal rate||Qualified adult rate|
|Less than €150||€88.10||€84.30|
|€150 - €219.99||€126.60||€84.30|
|€220 - €299.99||€153.60||€84.30|
|€300 or more||€196||€130.10|
Reduced rate of Jobseeker's Benefit
Jobseeker's Benefit rates are graduated according to your earnings in the relevant tax year. Since January 2009, a reduced rate of Jobseeker's Benefit is payable if your average weekly earnings in the Relevant Tax Year before you became unemployed were under €300. Your average weekly earnings is your gross yearly earnings from employment divided by the number paid A, H or P contributions in the Relevant Tax Year.
The Relevant Tax year is 2 years before the year of your claim. For example, if you claim Jobseeker's Benefit in 2010 the Relevant Tax Year is 2008. If you are affected by this rule, it may of greater benefit for you to claim Jobseeker's Allowance instead of Jobseeker's Benefit.
In some cases, a current JB claim may be linked to an older claim. If this is the case, your JB claim is not treated as a new claim, it is linked to your previous claim. If your JB claim is linked to a claim in 2007 or 2008 the following graduated rates apply:
For claims linked to JB claims started in 2007 or 2008:
|Average weekly earnings||Personal rate||Qualified adult rate|
|Less than €80||€88.10||€84.30|
|€80 - €124.99||€126.60||€84.30|
|€125 - €145.99||€153.60||€84.30|
|€150 or more||€196||€130.10|
You can collect your Jobseeker's Benefit payment weekly from your nearest Post Office.
You must bring valid photographic identification with you to collect your payment. The following is considered as valid photographic identification (photo ID):
Staff working in the Post Office may ask to see your photo ID before giving you your payment.
Taxation of Jobseeker's Benefit
Jobseeker's Benefit is taxable. However, if you are getting Jobseeker's Benefit because your normal working week has been reduced (systematic short-time work) your Jobseeker's Benefit is not taxed. Find out more about the taxation of Jobseeker's Benefit (PDF).
Half-rate Jobseeker's Benefit with another social welfare payment
If you are getting a Widow's/Widower's Pension, a One-Parent Family Payment or a deserted wives payment from DSFA and you meet all the conditions for Jobseeker's Benefit, you will be entitled to half the normal rate of Jobseeker's Benefit. An Increase for a Qualified Child is not paid with Jobseeker's Benefit in these cases because you are already being paid for your children in your main payment.
If you are getting Jobseeker's Benefit, you may be entitled to:
- Mortgage Interest Supplement or Rent Supplement - a payment from the Community Welfare Officer at your local health centre.
- Smokeless Fuel Allowance - to help low-income households meet the extra cost of using smokeless or low smoke fuels in designated urban areas (payable with Jobseeker's Benefit after 3 months).
- Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance - an allowance 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.
- Medical Card - if your income is below certain a level, you may get a medical card. It covers you for free doctor's care, approved prescriptions etc. Contact your Local Health Office for more information.
- School Book Scheme - each year the Department of Education and Science provides grants to primary, secondary and comprehensive schools towards the cost of school books 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.
How to apply
You should apply for Jobseeker's Benefit 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.
You will also need to bring certain documents to prove your claim. You may find this list of documents you need when you apply for Jobseeker's Benefit useful. If you do not have these documents to hand, you should apply anyway and supply them later. You should remember that delay in applying for Jobseeker's Benefit may mean that you lose out on your full entitlements.
You can get help to fill in your application form at your Social Welfare Local Office or nearest Citizens Information Centre.
If you think you have been wrongly refused Jobseeker's Benefit you can appeal this decision.
More information about applying for Jobseeker’s Benefit is available in our document about signing on for the first time.
Where to apply
Applications for Jobseeker's Benefit should be made to your Social Welfare Local Office.
If you wish to appeal a decision regarding the refusal of a social welfare payment, you should make this appeal to the Social Welfare Appeals Office using the contact information below.
If your employer does not issue you with a P45, it may be because you have not been registered for PRSI by your employer. It also could be that you have been registered but your employer has not paid the PRSI contributions which are due or has not paid the correct amount. Under the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act 1993 the employer is obliged to register all employees for PRSI. More information can be found in our document about your Employer's duty to pay social insurance.
Jobseeker's Benefit without a P45
If your former employer refuses to give you a P45 it can affect your application for Jobseeker's Benefit (JB). You should still apply for JB but the Department of Social and Family Affairs cannot pay JB to you until they verify your former employment.
If you do not have a P45, the Department may informally contact you employer at the time of your application for JB and request him/her to send you a P45 to help process your claim for JB. If this hasn't resulted in your former employer giving you your P45, you can ask to fill-in form IA49 at your local Social Welfare Office.
Form IA49 is a declaration stating that you believe your former employer did not comply with social insurance regulations. As a result of your declaration, there will be an investigation into your employer's payment of PRSI. Filling-in form IA49 may not result in your P45, however, it may help to determine if you qualify for Jobseeker's Benefit.
How to get your P45
If you are not given a P45 when you leave your job you should first ask your employer for it. If the employer does not supply it you should contact the tax office.
If you contact your tax office, Revenue will contact the employer and obtain your P45 for you. If you have started a new job, Revenue will send you a new tax credit certificate so you will not have to pay emergency tax in your new job. More information about how to get your P45 is available.
The information on this page is courtesy of www.welfare.ie
Make contact with your network of friends, family and other individuals you can approach. Don't be afraid to ask for help/information, you never know where it could lead.
Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.
What are the latest figures?
What are the latest unemployment, new job and emigration figures for people in and who have left Ireland.
(Figures from: Central statistics office.
|Unemployment rate in Ireland||New Jobs announced||Emigration|
|Q4 2010 - 13.57%||Q4 2009 -||Q4 2010 - 16,275 avg|
|Q1 2011 - 13.87%||Q1 2010 -||Q1 2010 - 16,325 avg|
|Q2 2010 - 13.20%||Q2 2010 -||Q2 2010 - 16,325 avg|
|Q3 2010 - 13.70%||Q3 2010 -||Q3 2010 - 16,325 avg|