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Check if a change affects your JSA

This advice applies to England

You’ll need to tell the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in writing about some changes to your work, money or family life. This is called a ‘change of circumstances’.

Most changes have to be reported in writing within 1 month - but you should report them as soon as you know about the change, if you can.

The change might increase your payment and you might miss out on extra money if you tell the DWP late.

You should still tell the DWP if you think a change might reduce your JSA - you won't save money by reporting it later. If you tell the DWP late you could get paid too much and have to pay your benefits back to the DWP. This is called an overpayment - check how the DWP deals with overpayments.

You should also tell your work coach about any changes that stop you keeping to your jobseeker's agreement. Tell them even if it’s a small change, for example if changes to your childcare mean you have 3 hours less a week to look for jobs.

Changes you have to report in writing

You have to report all these changes in writing to the DWP, even if you’ve already told your work coach.

You also have to tell the DWP even if another government department already knows. For example, if you tell HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) about a change, you still need to tell the DWP.

If you’ve used the Tell Us Once service to report the death of someone claiming JSA, you don’t need to tell the DWP. Tell Us Once will let them know.

Work changes

You must write to tell the DWP if you or your partner:

  • start working (even if it’s not paid)
  • change your hours to more than 16 a week
  • stop working
  • start earning more money
  • start earning less money

You should tell them even if it’s just one payment, or won’t be the same amount regularly. Explain how much money you think it will be in total and how long for. If you don’t know the exact amount, work out what you think it might be and tell the DWP it’s an estimate.

If you’re starting a new job, include in your letter:

  • your employer’s name and address
  • when the job started
  • how many hours you work each week
  • how much money you earn - before tax and other deductions
  • if money is being taken off for a pension - tell them how much it is, if you can

Money, savings and benefit changes

You must write to the DWP about certain changes to your money or any other benefits you get.

Tell the DWP if you or your partner:

  • claim any new benefits (even if they’re not being paid yet)
  • stop getting a benefit - for example child tax credits
  • get a one-off payment - for example if you inherit some money or are paid compensation

Changes to your savings

If you get income-based JSA and you have savings between £6,000 and £16,000, tell the DWP if they go up or down. This includes any savings your partner has.

Changes to do with your home and family

You must write and tell the DWP if you:

  • start studying full-time - or if under 19, start a full or part-time advanced education course, for example teacher training
  • reach state pension age - you can check your state pension age on GOV.UK
  • go to prison

If you get income-based JSA, you’ll need to tell the DWP if any of them happen to your partner. You must also tell them if:

  • you stop living with your partner
  • you start living with a new partner
  • you get divorced, married or form a civil partnership
  • your partner leaves the UK for more than 4 weeks - or 8 weeks if they’re accompanying a child getting medical treatment

If you’re under 18 and responsible for a child

Tell the DWP if the child you’re responsible for:

  • leaves school
  • moves out of your home
  • leaves the UK for more than 4 weeks - or 8 weeks if it’s to get medical treatment

You’re responsible for a child if they either live with you all the time or usually live with you and you’re their main carer.

Changes to your home

Tell the DWP if:

  • you move home
  • someone moves out of your home
  • someone moves into your home - for example if they rent a room

If you have a mortgage and your JSA is helping pay the mortgage interest, you need to tell the DWP if the amount you owe changes - for example because you re-mortgage.

Health changes

Once you’ve told your work coach, if a health problem lasts more than 2 weeks you should also write to tell the DWP.

You should tell them if you or partner goes into or leaves hospital. You should also tell them if your partner goes to stay in or leaves a care home.

If your health problems mean you can’t do all your work activities, ask to change your jobseeker's agreement. It’s worth doing even for a small change, for example if regular doctor appointments mean you have 2 hours fewer a week to look for work.

If you’re claiming new style JSA, you might be able continue getting it after 13 weeks. This depends on your work coach’s discretion.

If you’re claiming income or contribution based JSA, you can only get that for up to 13 weeks.

When your JSA stops, you can get more money by:

If someone dies

You’ll need to tell the DWP about the death of:

  • your partner
  • your child - if you’re claiming JSA because you’re under 18 and responsible for a child
  • someone you were caring for
  • anyone over 18 and living with you

You can use the Tell Us Once service on GOV.UK to tell government departments about a death quickly and easily. You can also ask your work coach for a break from job hunting if a member of your family has died.

Changes to your immigration status

Advising on benefits and immigration status

Generalist advisers can help clients with benefits issues related to their immigration status - this topic isn’t regulated by the OISC. Check what immigration advice is regulated by the OISC

If you’re from the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein and lose your ‘right to reside’ you won't be able to get income-based JSA.

You might have lost your right to reside because you:

  • split up from your partner and had your right to reside because of them
  • became a student and didn’t get medical insurance
  • lost your job and have been looking for a new job for more than 6 months

If you disagree, you should get advice about what to do next from your nearest Citizens Advice. Find out more about challenging the decision.

You can reapply for benefits if you have ‘settled status’.  This is because settled status gives you a right to reside. You'll usually get settled status if you’ve lived in the UK for 5 years or more. If you’ve lived in the UK for less than 5 years you can get ‘pre-settled status’ but this won’t give you a right to reside.

To get settled status you need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. You must be in the UK by 31 December 2020 to apply. Check how to apply for settled status.

If you can't get settled status, you can try to get your right to reside back by:

This is a complicated area, so it’s best to get help from your nearest Citizens Advice if you think a change to your right to reside might affect your JSA.

Find out more about staying in the UK after Brexit.

Writing to the DWP

Write ‘change of circumstances’ clearly at the top of the letter. Give as much information about the change as you can. For example if your partner has moved out, tell the DWP their name, when they moved and what their new address is.

Keep a copy of the letter and send copies of any evidence. For example, copies of your payslips if you’re reporting a change in income.

Send your letter by Royal Mail Signed For and keep the receipt - you might need to prove when you posted it and when it arrived. Send it to the address on the letter that told you how much JSA you’ll get. If you can’t find this letter, call the DWP and ask which office to send it to.

Telephone: 0800 169 0310
Textphone: 0800 169 0314
Welsh language: 0800 328 1744
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Calls to these numbers are free.

If you’ve missed the 1-month deadline

It’s better to report a change late than not to report it at all.

You can report a change up to 13 months late, but in your letter you’ll need to explain why you couldn’t report the change on time. For example, if you were sick for a number of weeks.

You’ll get any extra JSA from the date you reported the change. If you’re entitled to less JSA, your payments will be reduced from the date of the change. This means if you reported the change after it happened you might have been overpaid - and will usually need to pay the money back.

Finding out how much you’ll get after the change

The DWP might ask you for more information so they can work out how much to pay you. They’ll send you a letter telling you:

  • what information you need to send them
  • when you need to send it by

It’s important to send the DWP the information they’re asking for in time - if you don’t, they might stop your JSA. Use Royal Mail Signed For and keep the receipt. Call the DWP if there’s anything you can’t send.

When the DWP have got the information they need they’ll write to you to explain how your JSA will change. Look out for the letter - this confirms they’ve recorded your change of circumstances and will be paying you the right amount of JSA.

They’ll also tell you if there’s anything else you need to do. For example, if you must make a new claim as a single person.

Check the letter to make sure the DWP have recorded the right change of circumstances. You should tell them if they’ve made a mistake by calling the DWP. 

If you don’t get a letter from the DWP within 3 weeks

Call the DWP and ask them if they’ve recorded your change of circumstances. You’ll need details of what the change was and when you told them about it - for example proof of postage if you sent a letter.

Try to save the extra JSA if you think the DWP might be paying you too much. This will make it easier to pay it back if you need to.

Your nearest Citizens Advice can help if you’re having trouble reporting a change of circumstances.

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