12 million Americans could lose crucial unemployment benefits just after Christmas

November 21, 2020 at 15:09

(CNN) With special pandemic unemployment benefits set to expire in the next few weeks, opera singer Brian Montgomery is making plans to leave the country.
Since March, Montgomery -- a New Yorker who also works as a voice teacher and tour guide -- has not been able to find steady work, but he's gotten weekly payments thanks to the historic expansion of benefits under the $2 trillion federal stimulus package.
But now, with Congress stalled on a fresh relief deal, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program will run out just after Christmas.
Brian Montgomery, an out-of-work opera singer, voice teacher and tour guide, will have to move to Asia if Congress doesn't extend pandemic unemployment benefits by the end of the year.
If that happens, Montgomery and his wife, a part-time home health aide, might go to Japan, where Montgomery's wife is from, or Hong Kong, where he lived for 12 years and believes he can get work.
"I had hoped our wonderful Congress would have figured it out by now," said Montgomery, 63.
"We would be paying rent.
We would be putting that money back into the economy.
It's not as if we are just going to hoard it.
We need to spend it."
Montgomery is among the 7.3 million independent contractors, gig workers, freelancers and self-employed folks who would lose unemployment benefits, according to a recent estimate by The Century Foundation.
The program is also available to certain people affected by the coronavirus , including those who are ill or quarantined or have families members who are and those whose children's schools have closed.
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