Claiming benefits – is it worth signing on?

Do I need to sign on?

That’s a very individual question, and, when all is said and done, it’s down to you. A lot of people have very strong negative feelings about ‘getting benefits’ or ‘being a doley’, but if finances are tight you will need to rationalise these thoughts. You’ve paid into the system over a number of years – possibly many years – so, if your finances would be perilous without any income coming in for the next few weeks, or possibly months, then it would make sense to swallow your reservations and sign on.

Even if you don’t need the money, or if you have used up your 26 week non-means-tested JSA, you should still seriously consider signing on. This is because, if you claim, the Department of Work and Pensions will ‘credit’ your NI contributions record, which in turn will affect your pension, and your ability to access benefits in later years. You still have to attend to sign on fortnightly and you may have to prove that you’ve undertaken job hunting activity.

These pages aim to make the process of claiming as painless as possible, by answering many of the questions you’re likely to have before you think to ask them, and by linking you to expert resources where you can get more detailed advice.