For Cintia Guardia, dealing with the uncertainty of her family’s future is the hardest part of being unemployed during the pandemic.
“You don’t know if you’re going to keep your roof, how long people are going to go through without you paying them,” Cintia said.
Cintia, a licensed massage therapist and mother of two college kids, said she had to stop working in mid-March.
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“We had no work, nothing,” she said. “I couldn’t work privately because I could lose my license.”
The closure of non-essential businesses left Cintia, like so many others, scrambling to make ends meet. Weeks later, Cintia told NBC 6 she still had “zero income.”
On Monday, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s dashboard showed more than a million confirmed unique claims had been submitted between March 15 and May 2. About 44% of those claims had been paid.
Cintia said her claim was initially denied, after 5 weeks of waiting.
“They should deny you right away, not 5 weeks,” she said.
As a self-employed massage therapist, Cintia said she should qualify for federal benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or PUA. But she said she had only received one payment of $600, which was deposited into her bank account the previous week.
“This is ridiculous,” she said. “Where is my retroactive? Why are they not paying me the whole month of April?”
Cintia said she was unsure if she would get any additional payments and wanted to know the following from the state: “Why aren’t they giving to the people what belongs to the people?”
It's money she, and so many others going through similar hardship, said they desperately needed.
“You can’t even describe the feeling that’s inside of us,” Cintia said. “I don’t know if I can go to the supermarket because of gas money … $10 for me now is like a thousand dollars.”