Debra Wood has been out of work for 14 weeks. Unemployment checks have been helping her make ends meet. But a few weeks ago, that money stopped coming in.
"This is my first week of knowing I have no income," she said.
With only her cat Leo to look after, she said she's not as bad off as some.
"I'm single. This affects families. I have bills, too, but no children to support," she said.
Wood is looking for a job, but like many, she hasn't been able to find one.
"There are people who come in here and they say, ‘What am I supposed to do now? I've looked hard for work but couldn't find anything. Now what do I do?’” said Jim Lincoln, a supervisor at the Virginia Employment Commission.
Lincoln helps the jobless get much-needed benefits. Those benefits will now be extended another five months thanks to a $7.3 billion bill passed by President Bush.
"This could literally help millions across the nations and thousands in the Valley, in our region," Lincoln said.
Previously, benefits were only available for 26 weeks. Now they will be automatically extended to those who were receiving them before they expired late December.
Those checks range from $59 to $318 dollars a week. That money doesn't pay for everything, but for people like Debra every little bit helps.
"What comes in each week goes right back out. Bills," explained Wood.
Lincoln was pleasantly surprised with the five-month extension. Originally, it was to be continued for only 13 weeks.