National Insurance explained National Insurance and benefits

Making NICs can entitle you to certain benefits 

National Insurance contributions currently build up your entitlement to what are known as 'contributory benefits'. 

These include:

  • Jobseeker's Allowance (contribution-based element) 
  • Employment and Suport Allowance (ESA- contribution-based element)
  • Maternity Allowance
  • Bereavement benefits (Bereavement Allowance, Bereavement Payment and Widowed Parent's Allowance)
  • Incapacity Benefit  

Find out more: National Insurance rates - work out how much you need to pay to be entitled to these benefits

Jobseeker’s allowance 

If you are unemployed, you can currently claim Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA). 

  • Contribution-based JSA. You should be eligible for contribution-based JSA if you have paid or been credited with sufficient National Insurance contributions. This ceases after six months. It is counted as taxable income. 
  • Income-based JSA. If you do not qualify for contributory JSA, you may get income-based JSA instead. This is means tested, so what you get is based on your income and savings. Your payments might be reduced if you earn income from part-time employment. 
  • You’ll get less than the full amount if you have savings of over £6,000. If you have savings of over £16,000 to probably won’t qualify for income-based JSA at all. Income-based JSA is scheduled to be replaced by Universal Credit.  

Employment and support allowance

A benefit that pays out in the event of physical or mental illness. Entitlement conditions are broadly similar to those for Jobseeker's Allowance and based on your contributions record in the case of contribution-based  ESA.

Benefit changes 

Both Income based JSA and income-based ESA are due to be replaced by Universal Credit. The new benefit also replaces Income Support, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit.

Full details have yet to be announced. 

Bereavement benefits

Entitlement is based on the NI record of your spouse (most will qualify). A one-off payment of £2,000 is available, but only if your late spouse wasn't entitled to the basic state pension or you were under state pension age when they died.

Widowed parent's allowance is paid from the time of death while the surviving spouse is pregnant or caring for dependent children. It stops early if you remarry or cohabit. 

Where you have no dependents, bereavement allowance is paid for a year after death to those aged between 45 and state pension age. The maximum you can get is £112.55 per week if you're aged between 55 and state pension age,  The overall amount depends on your partner's National Insurance contributions. 

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Last updated:

April 2016

Updated by:

Ian Robinson


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