LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3) -- The New Year does not seem to be getting off to the right start for the thousands who depend on unemployment benefits.
On Saturday, the checks stop coming for those who have been unemployed longer for six months. For many depending on unemployment checks, these cuts are signaling the toughest of times.
Phones are ringing off the hook at the employment call center, as December 28 is the cutoff for 17,000 Nevadans on extended unemployment benefits.
This month congress passed a budget cutting out long-term unemployment benefits. It's affecting people like Anthony Simon, who has been out of work for six months.
"I feel it's not fair to those people struggling because we are trying to survive,” Simon said. “We work hard."
Simon has no idea on what he is going to do without unemployment benefits.
"Them cutting it off is going to make it harder for everybody,” Simon said. “I don't know what to do. It's a struggle."
Without any sign of congress doing anything, 800 Nevadans each week will fall off the unemployment benefits roll. Despite this, Dennis Perea, the deputy director of the Nevada Department of Employment, says that the unemployed need to keep filing their claims. If congress decides to retroactively extend the unemployment benefits, he says, then the people who are still in the system as unemployed will be paid.
Simon hopes he sees some relief soon.
"Pray. Pray that everything changes,” Simon said. “Pray that the government changes their mind and helps us out."
It’s unclear what congress will do, but senator Harry Reid says when congress convenes in January the unemployment benefit issue will be talked about again.
The unemployment benefit cuts also could lead to 60 positions getting eliminated at the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.