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Expiring unemployment benefit programs are 'heartbreaking' for unemployed Virginians

Virginia's Extended Benefits program ended on Saturday. The PUA and PEUC programs will expire in December. Claimants say additional help is needed.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Virginia Beach mother Lindsy Wendt says she no longer receives the money she's used to buy groceries for her family during the pandemic. Her benefits expired this past week, and so did Virginia's Extended Benefits program

“Right around the corner you’ve got Thanksgiving, and you’ve got Christmas, and there are some things that you want to be able to do for your kids and you can’t," Wendt said.

Wendt is one of about 20,000 Virginians who are no longer receiving benefits due to the expiration of the Extended Benefits program, according to the Virginia Employment Commission.

The VEC said the Department of Labor told the agency that Virginia no longer qualifies for the federal funding for EB. The Commonwealth's unemployment rate dropped below five percent, which is the benchmark used to trigger the EB eligibility.

Wendt is the mother of two: a son in kindergarten and a daughter in third grade. She said she's home with both as they navigate virtual learning.

“It’s impossible for these kids to do it on their own," she said. “A kindergartner cannot get on a Zoom meeting all by himself."

She owned a cleaning business and cleaned others' homes, but many of her clients stopped using the service due to pandemic and health-related concerns.

"No one wants you in their homes right now," she said.

She said she wants to work, but she can't when she's helping her children learn at home.

“What’s most important, is it my kids and their education, or is it me working? My kids come first.”

She said there needs to be another extension or more help offered.

“I know there are so many other parents out there that are in the same situation that I’m in," she said.

The Extended Benefits program covered people who had exhausted their rights to traditional unemployment benefits.

Both the PUA and PEUC programs will expire in late December unless there's additional legislation extending those programs.

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