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Dec 26, 2012 8:03 PM by Nathan O'Neal

Tucsonans worry as unemployment benefits set to expire

TUCSON - Tough times could be in the near future for some Tucsonans who received unemployment benefits.

The federally-funded Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program, or EUC, is set to expire on December 29.

If Congress doesn't extend the benefits by the end of this week, there could be a huge impact for thousands of Arizonans.

The Department of Economic Security officials said it's prepared for whatever action Congress chooses to take, but for some, if they do not extend this program, it could be a world of hurt.

Adrienne Pallente hasn't worked for about a year while she's been going to school. She took her son Josh to go fill out unemployment papers for the week.

"Without that, I'd have to scramble," Pallante said, who says she can't imagine what would happen if those benefits were suddenly taken away.

"It would be very hard and very stressful." Pallante told News 4 Tucson. "It would make an impact of losing housing, not being able to afford groceries or fuel to get to and from school or wherever I have to be."

If Congress doesn't extend the program by the end of the week, DES officials say 21,000 people could get hit hard.

"We're hopeful that Congress does pass the EUC extension and it would relieve some of the stress that the claimants are facing," said Carmen Solis, the State Call Center Operations Manager for DES.

The Department, Solis said, has prepared for any outcome.

"But most importantly EUC participants should still continue to file their weekly certifications online so it does not delay any payment," Solis told News 4 Tucson, just in case Congress does extend the benefits in time.

While we wait to see what action Congress takes, Adrienne Pallente worries.

"There's no income coming in, so that's just a disasterl," Pallente said.

The Department itself is also looking at slashing some jobs because of the possibility of the benefits expiring, reducing staff at the call centers in Tucson and Phoenix.

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