All you need to know about Job Seekers Allowance part 4

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What happens if I’m unable to work or look for work because someone in the family has died, or a relationship has ended, or I’ve been in an abusive relationship?
There are certain situations where you will still be able to claim JSA while having a break from looking for work or from working. For example, if someone you are caring for dies or you are coping with the end of a relationship. You will need to discuss your problem with your personal adviser. Jobcentre Plus may say that you are unable to work for one week. However, this type of situation can only happen four times in one year. In certain circumstances this break may be extended for up to 8 weeks, but this can only happen once in a year.

I want to study/train, will this affect my ability to claim Job Seeker’s Allowance?
Once you are claiming JSA you are not able to enrol on a full-time course, although you might be able to claim JSA during the summer holidays between terms if you are able to look for work.
If you enrol on a full-time course before you are transferred to JSA, then you will be able to continue claiming Income Support until the course finishes.
You may be able to claim JSA if you are a part-time student. If you are studying outside the times you stated as being available to work, and you think you can reasonably combine work and study, you may be able to claim. Also, if you explain to your adviser that you will change your hours of study, or give up your course if work becomes available, you may be able to claim.

Will I get support for training/learning new skills?
While claiming JSA you will have access to the New Deal for Lone Parents, the same as when you were on Income Support. If you want more information on learning or training opportunities, speak to your personal adviser and they should inform you of what is currently available. If you have been on JSA for more than 6 months then you may be entitled to pursue an 8-week full-time course while still claiming JSA.

What if my child is disabled or has special needs?
If your children are receiving the medium or highest rate care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA), or you receive a Carer’s Allowance, you will still be able to claim for Income Support. If you have any doubts about what benefits you are currently receiving, call Jobcentre Plus and ask their advice.

I’m a foster parent. Will I be moved to JSA?
If you are a foster parent currently fostering a child that is living with you, then you will not be moved to JSA and will continue receiving Income Support. If your situation changes and the foster child or children are no longer living with you, it will be important to make Jobcentre Plus aware of this.

I home educate my children. Am I able to stay on Income Support?
If you home educate your children you will not be able to claim Income Support in order to do this. When you are transferred to JSA, speak with your adviser and explain that you are a home educator and discuss the options available to you. For more information on JSA and home education, see 

My children are aged over 5 but I have only very recently become a single parent. Can I claim Income Support, or must I claim JSA and look for work?
If your youngest child is 5 or over, and you are not in work, you are no longer allowed to claim Income Support as a single parent. Speak to an adviser at your local Jobcentre Plus about your recent changes in situation, or call Job Centre Plus Benefit Enquiries on 0800 055 6688, and they will explain what benefits you are entitled to and how to put in a new claim.

What if my child is excluded from school, or I get a Parenting Order?
If this happens you will still be able to claim JSA but will not have to fulfil all the criteria. This means that you will receive the money but will not have to look for work for the period that your child is excluded/you have a Parenting Order. It will be important to keep your personal adviser up-to-date with your personal situation and any changes.

Will all my other benefits stop if I claim Job Seeker’s Allowance?
Not necessarily you will still receive the full rates of Child Tax Credit and Child Benefit. 

Helpful telephone numbers:
Jobcentre Plus: 0800 055 6688
Family Lives: 0808 800 2222
Gingerbread Single Parent Helpline: 0808 802 0925