The clock is ticking on federal pandemic unemployment benefits, which are scheduled to end July 31.
Although some in Congress say it's time to move on and give people incentives to return to work instead of staying home, one Cincinnati-area woman says it is too soon to cut pandemic assistance.
Still awaiting first check
Heather Salz and her teenage son love working on their 1996 Mustang together. It is her prized possession, and her only car.
But with her bank account running on fumes, she says "my biggest fear is that I'll have to sell the car."
Salz has been out of work since March, laid off from a medical office job.
But while others get state unemployment benefits, plus another $600 in federal pandemic assistance under the CARES Act, this single mom is caught in limbo.
Her claim has been held up by the state of Ohio, which means she has yet to receive either the regular benefits or the bonus federal aid.
"I call every morning at 7 a.m.," she said. "I call every single day at 7 a.m., and they tell me it's a technical issue, but no help."
Now she worries it's too late to qualify for the $600 weekly pandemic bonus running out at the end of July.
"You cry a lot, you get very depressed," she said.
Like so many people living on the brink right now, Salz worries if there is no extension of unemployment benefits and no second stimulus program, she could lose her rental home.
"I went to a friend last month just to borrow money to pay rent," she said.
Salz is looking for work but says the job market is terrible in her field.
That's why she and so many others pray Congress will keep the pandemic assistance running a little while longer.
Although selling her beloved Mustang would be sad, losing her home would be worse.
"I call down there crying, anything," she said. "I don't want to lose my home."
Will benefits be extended?
We have passed Salz's case on to the State of Ohio's Job and Family Services department.
Meantime, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell now says a second stimulus check may soon be on the way, though it may be only for people earning less than $40,000 a year. Congress is expected to debate the new stimulus when it returns in another week.
Heather Salz says that she would certainly fit that requirement at this point.
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