My unemployment benefits ran out

These 5 have been unemployed so long enough they exhausted their unemployment insurance - just like half a million Americans about to face the same fate. How did it happen, and how do they cope without a weekly check?

1 of 5
BACKNEXT
Mary Ortega
Unemployed since: May 2008

Benefits expired: July 2009

Filed in: Pennsylvania

Age: 42

I was working as a store manager at a women's retailer called The Pink Turtle before the whole chain shut down. We did everything we could -- we cut employees' hours, slashed pricing -- but I was laid off in May 2008 when the store closed.

I figured I'd be out of work for three to six months, max. Early in my career I'd been laid off, and it never lasted longer than that. I applied for unemployment, and I received the maximum $528 a week before taxes.

Soon I realized how tough of a road I had ahead of me. Headhunters were telling me how online job posts receive 1,000 resumes. Another big blow came when my partner, Craig, was laid off from Blue Cross/Blue Shield a few months later. He recently found a job in Lancaster, Pa., so he's commuting three hours a day.

I think about what would have happened if Craig and I hadn't moved in together. I probably could have scraped by being single -- but if you're living someplace where cost of living is higher, you're in a tough bind.

Our savings are exhausted, and it's going to be very tight for the next 45 days. If I don't find a job before that, I truly don't know what I'm going to do. I'm grateful for the checks I've received for the past year, but I just wish I could keep getting them somehow.


NEXT: Orion Lyonesse
Last updated July 17 2009: 10:06 AM ET
Email | Print | Share  |  RSS
 
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all CNNMoney.com RSS FEEDS (close)
More Galleries
7 startups that want to improve your mental health From a text therapy platform to apps that push you reminders to breathe, these self-care startups offer help on a daily basis or in times of need. More
5 radical technologies that will change how you get to work From Uber's flying cars to the Hyperloop, these are some of the neatest transportation concepts in the works today. More
Royal wedding: How much will it cost? Meghan Markle's wedding to Prince Harry could cost millions once security is included in the bill. See how the costs break down. More

Special Offer