Jobseeker’s Allowance  is the means tested payment in respect of unemployment.  Many of the tests are similar to those set out above in respect of the Jobseeker’s Benefit.

The entitlement to Jobseeker’s Allowance  applies to a day of unemployment which forms part of a period of interruption of employment.  The person must be between the age of 18 and 66 years.  He must prove unemployment in the manner prescribed.  He must satisfy a means test.

A person who is entitled to both Jobseeker’s Benefit and Jobseeker’s Allowance  may opt for either.  This may be beneficial as associated secondary benefits are potentially available for one, but not the other.

The conditions are broadly similar to those for jobseekers’ benefit.  The principal difference is that the requirement to satisfy a means test.  The applicant must be available for work and genuinely seeking employment.  The disqualifications applicable to Jobseeker’s Benefit apply in almost identical terms. A person does not qualify for the first three days of unemployment.

Periods of continuous employment under community employment scheme and certain training and employment schemes up to 52 weeks or  entitlement of preretirement allowance between two periods of employment is disregarded “in treating them as one continuous period of employment”

The Jobseeker’s Allowance  means test is dealt with separately.  It differs from some of the longer-term benefits means tests. The means test includes actual mean as well as the following

  • assets owned by the person and his/ her spouse including personally used or enjoyed property
  • income that the person might be reasonably expected to receive in the coming period.
  • the value of advantage to the person or spouse on the use of property other than domestic dwelling house or farm building owned and occupied
  • furniture and personal effect personally used by the person or spouse
  • the value of releasing a farmland
  • assets that the person or spouse has deprived himself of in order to qualify for the allowance
  • the value of benefits and privileges enjoyed by the person or spouse including the estimated value of household income earned by the spouse from income or self-employment

The allowance is payable at flat rate with increases for qualifying adults and qualifying children.  Each member of a couple may receive the allowance, but the amount payable is limited to what would be the case if the couple was treated as one claimant and one qualified adult

The 2009 Social Welfare Act provided for a reduced rate of allowance, jobseeker’s allowance for persons below 25 years. There are reduced rates for persons who are 18 to 21 years and 22 to 25 years. The latter are not entitled to an increase for qualified child. It does not apply to persons who previously received one-parent family benefits or carer’s allowance.

The reduced rates do not apply to persons who have used Jobseeker’s Benefit credits prior to claiming the allowance. It does not apply to persons in receipt of disability allowance before a claim, persons who are for at least 12 months prior to reaching the age 18 in the care of the HSE or under a voluntary care arrangement or accommodation arrangement under child care legislation.

Certain limited secondary benefits apply to persons with long term Jobseeker’s Allowance.  There is no time limit for payment while the person continues to qualify.

A person may be disqualified on much of the same grounds as in relation to jobseekers’ benefit.  These include

  • while being in prison / inmate in a prison or institution maintained out of public funds
  • while employed in community employment or rural social schemes

The same provisions  that apply in relation to trade disputes apply in relation to Jobseeker’s Allowance .  The same principles regarding residence within the state and temporary non-residence apply.

A person does not qualify while undertaking a course of study.  There are limited exception.  The course of study means a fulltime day course of study, instruction or training at an institute of education.  This covers colleges, universities, schools, institutes of higher education and most other educational institutions.

A person is deemed to be attending a course of study

  • for three months after completion of second level education or the Leaving Cert or
  • for the duration of an academic year including term vacations or
  • for the period after completion of and academic year other than final year.

The provision does not apply to mature students and certain others on specific scheme. The purpose is to ensure that students do not qualify during the summer holidays.

Pre-Retirement Allowance is equivalent to Jobseeker’s Allowance .  It is available to long term unemployed persons and certain other categories with long term claims.  They need not be available for work or genuinely seeking work.  In effect, they must be retired.  Persons who ceased to be lone parents or carers may also transfer to pre-retirement allowance.

The scheme is not available to persons after July 2007.

The conditions for Pre-Retirement allowance is that the person has attained the age specified now 55 and is less than the pensionable age of 66.  He must satisfy a means test.   He  must be

  • in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance  for at least 390 days
  • separated or divorced and not engaged in remunerative employment or self-employment in any period in a prescribed preceding period
  • immediately before the time of the  claim be in receipt of one family payment, but have ceased to be entitled to such payment by reason of no longer being deemed a qualified parent or
  • having been entitled to carers allowance or ceased to be entitled to such allowance because he is no longer a carer.

The period during which a person does not engage in insurable employment or self-employment is deemed a period of retirement. The means test is broadly similar to that for Jobseeker’s Allowance .  If the spouse is not a qualified adult, his or her means are taken account of as to 50 percent.

A flat rate applies for qualified adults and qualified children.  If both members of a couple would qualify, the amount is limited to that which would apply to a claimant and qualifies adults.  Similar limited secondary benefits are available.  The disqualification conditions are broadly similar.

The 2010 Act  clarifies the calculation of entitlement to Jobseeker’s Allowance where weekly means comprise earnings from insurable employment. In determining a week of unemployment (3 days of unemployment consecutive or not in any 6 consecutive days), the practice is to include a day only once in any computation where that day is part of a week of unemployment in respect of which Jobseeker’s Allowance is paid.

The 2010 Act  provides for a reduced rate of Jobseeker’s Allowance and Supplementary Welfare Allowance for claimants who refuse to participate in an appropriate course of training or to participate in a programme under the National Employment Action Plan.

The 2010 Act provides for the payment of a reduced rate of Jobseeker’s Allowance or Supplementary Welfare Allowance where the person refuses to participate in an appropriate course of training or to participate in a programme under the National Employment Action Plan.

A reduction of €46 per week was  provided for those over 24 years of age with reductions of €35 per week for those aged 22 to 24 and €25 per week for those aged 18 to 21. There is a specific disqualification for receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance where the person refuses an offer of suitable employment.

There is a reduced rate of Jobseeker’s Allowance is payable in the case of 18 to 21 year olds.

 The 2013 Act provided for the amendment of the rates of Jobseeker’s Allowance payable to certain claimants aged under 26 years. A reduced weekly rate of €100  applied to 18 to 21 year olds and a reduced rate of €144 applied to 22 to 24 year olds, in both cases where the claimant did not have children.

The 2013 Act provided that the reduced weekly rate of €100 would continue to apply to existing claimants aged between 18 and 21 years until they reach 25 years and will also apply to new claimants aged between 22 and 24 years.

The 2013 Act provided that the reduced weekly rate of €144 will continue to apply to existing claimants aged between 22 and 24 years when they reach 25 years and will apply to new claimants who are aged 25 years. In addition, these lower rates of Jobseeker’s Allowance  applied to claimants aged 25 and under who have exhausted their entitlement to Jobseeker’s Benefit. Claimants who had children were unaffected by these measures, which  applied from 14 January 2014.

The 2014 Act  provides that increases in jobseeker’s allowance, preretirement allowance, supplementary welfare allowance, disability allowance or farm assist in respect of the qualified adult of the recipient will not be payable for any period during which that qualified adult is— (a) resident, whether temporarily or permanently, outside the State, or (b) in prison or otherwise detained in legal custody.

The 2015 Act  amended the qualifying conditions applying to the Jobseeker’s Allowance transitional arrangements. Under these transitional arrangements, certain former recipients of the One Parent Family Payment were exempt from a number of the conditions applying to the Jobseeker’s Allowance scheme, such as the requirement to be available for and genuinely seeking full-time employment, up until their youngest child reaches 14 years of age.

Eligibility for the Jobseeker’s Allowance transitional arrangements was extended to all lone parents where their youngest child is between the ages of 7 and 13 years, whether or not that person has previously been in receipt of the One-Parent Family Payment. A person who becomes a lone parent for the first time and whose youngest child is aged between 7 and 13 years, is eligible to apply for Jobseeker’s Allowance under the transitional arrangements.

The 2015 Act  defines the term ‘‘day of unemployment’’ for the purposes of qualification for Jobseeker’s Benefit and Jobseeker’s Allowance, including the Jobseeker’s Allowance transitional arrangements for former recipients of One-Parent Family Payment.

The 2018 Act extended the existing provisions to ensure that a person who was in the care of the State on attaining the age of 18 is not subject to age-related reduced-rate payments of Jobseeker’s Allowance.

The 2019 Act  provided that the reduced rate of Jobseeker’s Allowance for claimants aged 18 to 24 would  no longer apply where the claimant lives independently and is in receipt of housing supports. The full rate of Jobseeker’s Allowance will be paid to these persons with effect from 1 January 2020.

The 2019 Act  provides that, from 1 January 2020, the age-related reduced rate of Jobseeker’s Allowance will no longer apply to younger claimants once they have attained the age of 25.

The 2020 Act provided for the attribution of paid social insurance contributions. It defines the cohorts to whom contributions may be attributed as those in receipt of the pandemic unemployment payment, Jobseekers Benefit, Jobseeker’s Allowance as well as those on the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) or the Employer Refund Scheme who have lost their employment since 13th March 2020 as a result of the public health crisis arising from Covid-19.


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