Jobseeker's Allowance (JA) is a means tested social assistance payment. It is paid by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection on the basis that you are unemployed and meet the general qualification criteria as outlined below.
Jobseekers Allowance is normally paid if you are unemployed and do not have enough PRSI contributions or 'stamps' to qualify for a social insurance payment i.e. Jobseeker's Benefit.
To qualify for Jobseeker's Allowance you must:
- Be habitually resident in Ireland
- Be unemployed
- Be over 18 and under pension age (66)
- Be capable of work
- Be available for work
- Be genuinely seeking work
- Satisfy a means test
- Prove unemployment in the prescribed manner
Means Test and Jobseeker's Allowance
In order to qualify for a Jobseeker's Allowance payment you must prove that your 'means' are below the maximum rate of Jobseeker's Allowance for your family size. If it is decided that you do have assessable 'means', you may receive a reduced JA payment based on the amount of assessed means.
The rules on means testing are set out in the Departments internal guidelines. These guidelines do not always have a clear legal status and can be over-ruled by a decision of the Social Welfare Appeals Office. If you feel you are being treated unreasonably, you may have the right to appeal the decision (See Appeals)
The Department can ask you to produce details of all bank accounts or other information relating to the means test. If you do not provide the requested information or documention, the Department can refuse to process your claim because you have not provided the necessary information.
The following four categories of means or income are taken into account in the means test:
- Cash Income
- Benefit and Privilege
Broadly speaking, all money that you have will be taken into account. This includes your income, income from your partner/spouse, income from part-time work, from the renting of part of your home or from any occupational pension.
But - there are exceptions
Some cash income is not taken into account from the following sources:
- A certain amount of money earned from a HSE as a Home Help
- The maintenance portion of a Local Authority Higher Education Grant
- Child Benefit
- Rent or Mortgage Interest Supplement
- Income earned under certain schemes in Gaeltacht areas
- Income from charities
- Income from the HIV Haemophilia Fund and the Hepatitis C Fund
- Training allowances with rehabilitation courses
- Income from a Disability Pension or a Wound Pension under the Army Pension Acts 1923 - 1980 or a combination of allowances in so far as they do not exceed €104 per year (includes British War Pension from UK).
- Compensation awards by the residential institutions redress board
The Department of Social Protection will take into account the value of any property you own - except your own home. This includes:
- inherited house or property (or part interest in a property)
- holiday home
- second home
- Rented: if you own a second home and this property is rented out the Capital Value of the property is assessed. The rental value of the property is not counted as part of the means test. Any outstanding mortgage registered against the property is deducted from the market value to find the capital value. However, if the mortgage on the home in which you live has been re-structured to raise capital to buy the second property, this re-structured mortgage will not be deducted from the capital assessment of the second property.
- Not Rented: if you own a second home and this property is not rented out the Capital Value fo the property is assessed. Any outstanding mortgage registered against the property is deducted from the market value to find the capital value. However, if the mortgage on the home in which you live has been re-structured to raise capital to buy the second property, this re-structured mortgage will not be deducted from the capital assessment of the second property.
- Not Inhabitated/Lived in: Even if a property is derelict or uninhabited its Capital Value can be assessed as part of the means test. If you belive the property has been incorrectly valued by the Department of Social Protection, particulalry if it is delerlict, you should have the property valued at current market rates based on it current state.
Investments, savings and capital
Money that you have saved at home or invested in a bank or credit union, stocks, bonds or shares can also be counted as means against your Jobseeker's Allowance payment.
Even if you are not earning money from any of these the Department will still want to estimate any value you receive from them. The method of assessing capital for entitlement to Jobseeker's Allowance is:
|Next €10,000||€1.00 per €1,000|
|Next €10,000||€2.00 Per €1,000|
|Balance||€4.00 per €1,000|
If the Department know, or suspect, that you deliberately got rid of any money or property in order to qualify for a payment, you may be means tested as if you still had the money or property.
The Department's Social Welfare Officer can ask you to produce details of all bank accounts or other information relating to the means test. If you do not co-operate the Social Welfare Officer (SWO) can refuse to process your claim because you have not provided the necessary information.
Benefit and Privilege
This is a calculation made by the Department to judge the 'benefit' you receive from living in your parents' home.
This rule does not apply to you if you are over 24 years of age on Jobseeker's Allowance or where a married/co-habiting son/daughter is living with his/her parents.
For more information on the Benefit and Privilege calculation please contact the Welfare to Work Section of the INOU at 01 - 856 0088.
Further detailed information on the means test and the categories of means are available from the following:
Last Updated: 08/03/2018