Arizonans forced to live off a couple hundred dollars a week as federal supplement expires

Unemployment payments decrease in Arizona

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Arizonans who are out of work for pandemic-related reasons are no longer getting a federal boost.

The $300 federal supplement payment expired on Saturday.

“I didn’t have any warning,” said Carla Gallegos. “I [found out] Sunday morning when I went to do my weekly check-in on the state’s website.”

Now, jobless Arizonans will only receive a maximum $240 weekly payment from the state.

For Gallegos, it’s far less.

“I would challenge anyone in Washington to come live off $117 a week,” said Gallegos. “I have no money for rent right now, I have no money for utilities, I have no money for food for my dog right now.”

She says getting back into the workforce with COVID-19 still present is just too dangerous.

“I am diabetic and I only have one kidney,” said Gallegos. “If I were to catch [the virus], chances are I’m not going to survive it.”

As Gallegos wonders how she’s going to pay her bills with a monthly income of just under $500, Amber Kumisca wonders how she’s going to survive with no income at all.

Kumisca’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) payments stopped on July 18th.

“It’s so aggravating,” she said. “I got paid for at least 15 weeks and then I guess the whole fraud thing was going on so because of that, they stopped my payments and I have not gotten paid in like 10 weeks now.”

Kumisca told KOLD News 13 she hasn’t been able to get any answers from Arizona’s Department of Economic Security (AZDES) and her options are running out.

It’s very frustrating for me because I also worked in the health care field and my business actually got shut down,” she said. “I had savings, but those savings got spent to survive these past 10 weeks.”

With thousands of Arizonans stuck in the same boat, Gallegos is calling on Congress and the State Legislature to act.

“We are all drowning here, and they are the one with the damn rafts,” said Gallegos. “They are the ones with the life support, they need to throw us a rope.”

KOLD News 13 reached out to AZDES for comment. We have not heard back yet.

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