Federal unemployment benefits set to expire, leaving recipients to face the unknown

Reporter: Sara Girard Writer: Jackie Winchester
Credit: WINK News.

Losing federal unemployment benefits will make it hard for people in Southwest Florida to make ends meet. The $600 weekly benefit, a CARES Act addition to state benefits, will end July 25 in Florida unless Congress passes legislation to extend it.

Anne Lindberg of Port Charlotte is out of work, but she’s paying her bills thanks to that extra money.

“The $600 per week fed money is what has kept me going,” she said.

But she said without that boost of cash from the CARES Act, making ends meet with just the $247 she gets in Florida unemployment benefits would be impossible.

“The 600 on top of the 247 was paying the mortgage, FPL, water, and groceries basic,” Lindberg said.

She was furloughed from her job as a corporate travel agent on April 1. If she loses the $600 a week, her state benefits turn out to be the equivalent of $6.17 an hour.

“So I don’t know what I’m going to do if that stops completely, I have no idea. I mean rent, sell my house, move, I don’t know.”

Despite the expiration date of July 31, the last week to claim the extra $600 ends this Saturday based on how Florida doles out the crash.

So far, Congress hasn’t come to an agreement on what to do next.

“They don’t really seem to care, because they’re not the ones needing it,” Lindberg said.

Meanwhile, she said paying her mortgage is all she can think about.

“My anxiety is over the roof, and I’m nervous all the time. And it is on my mind 24 seven.”

Tens of thousands of other people in Southwest Florida likely feel the same way.

Since March, more than 3 million people in Florida have filed unemployment claims, and the state has paid out more than $11.2 billion dollars in state and federal benefits.

For ongoing updates and information on unemployment, follow WINK News Investigative Reporter Sara Girard on Twitter and Facebook.

She also updates the WINK News FAQ: Unemployment Resources page as information is received.

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