Ireland and Massachusetts (USA): Compare and Contrast of Jobseeker’s Allowance

Unemployment is a stressful time of one’s life. The fear of not knowing where your next paycheck is going to come from, and if you are going to have enough to put food on your table, is very real for many people. I will examine the different government allowances in Ireland and the United States to see how these countries compare and contrast when helping out their unemployed when they are finding their next jobs.

In Ireland, Jobseeker’s Allowance is a type of payment that Ireland government pays the unemployed. The allowance payment is a means-tested payment, meaning an unemployed individual would have to fall lower than the average of specific income qualifications. This allowance payment is paid out by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP). To qualify, one must:

  • Be Between 18 and 66
  • Be Unemployed
  • Actively be seeking work (with proof)
  • Satisfy the means-test
  • Be a proven habitual resident (living in Ireland with some permanence)

In order to satisfy the means-test, the DEASP observes your personal cash income, savings and other assets. However, the DEASP also considers your spouse or partner’s personal financial assets as well when considering how much to pay the unemployed. If an individual qualifies, meaning they fall into all five categories, he or she will receive a weekly €203 payment. However, an individual can lose this payment at any time for not seeking a job, losing a job, or refusing to accept a job offer.

Comparatively, The United States offers unemployment benefits, but the benefits usually differ per state. For comparison example, my home state of Massachusetts pays benefits to those who meet these three requirements:

  • Unemployed through no fault of your own
  • Have earned a least a minimum amount in wages before unemployment
  • Available to work and have proof of active seeking of employment

Now these three requirements each break down more specifically. Massachusetts considers “unemployed through no fault of their own” as being laid off by a company for their own economic reasons. The Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) will not provide benefits to those who were fired for misconduct or those who quit their job. 

Massachusetts also considers your past wages. The State looks at a one-year base period to determine eligibility. An individual must have made at least $3,500 during the one year as well as earned a total year earnings of at least 30x the weekly benefit amount in order to qualify for unemployment benefits. 

Finally, similar to Ireland, Massachusetts requires active search for work. The State requires individuals receiving the benefit to participate in three job search activities for at least three days of the week. In addition, the unemployed individual must have proof of such search.

Compared to Ireland, where an unemployed individual can receive up to €203, a qualified unemployed worker in Massachusetts can receive up to half of their average weekly wage during the highest paying period of their base year. This is why the State looks at income, as Ireland would with the means-test. However, the MA benefit cap is $698. Therefore, a worker who had high income in previous base year and now qualifies for unemployment can receive a weekly benefit of $698.


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