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Nevadans receiving unemployment before March left with questions

Updated April 25, 2020 - 2:54 pm

Las Vegan Scott Pastor has less than three weeks before he will have claimed Nevada’s maximum unemployment insurance benefits of 26 weeks.

But under the CARES Act he might be eligible to receive an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits.

“I hope to heck that we are (eligible),” Pastor said. “If it isn’t true, that’s going to put everything into a different position.”

Pastor, like many others facing the final weeks of their pre-COVID-19-era unemployment insurance, is unsure whether the unemployment benefits of the CARES Act apply to him.

According to data from the Department of Labor, Pastor was one of 19,585 people in Nevada claiming unemployment benefits for the week ending Feb. 15 — a month before Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered the temporary closure of nonessential businesses and casinos.

John Restrepo, founder of RCG Economics and Las Vegas consultant, said it’s a “double whammy” for those who already had difficulty finding work before March, adding that it took Las Vegas several years to recover after losing about 140,000 jobs during the Great Recession.

“There’s an old term, ‘We won the war and we won the peace,’” he said. “In the Great Recession, we won the war but we didn’t win the peace, and what I mean by that is we left a lot of folks behind — particularly low-skilled, low-wage workers. The recovery has been pretty uneven in many ways.”


Pastor said he was laid off in November from his post as general manager of a virtual reality company inside The Venetian.

“I’ve been a general manager all the way up to district manager in retail companies here in Las Vegas and San Diego, (and) I’ve been applying to jobs since mid-November and I have not had one face-to-face interview,” Pastor said. “It’s going to be impossible for those of us with no job to find a job now because of coronavirus.”

Last week, he started to receive an extra $600 with his regular unemployment benefits but isn’t sure whether it will be retroactive because he belongs to a group unemployed before the coronavirus pandemic affected Nevada’s economy.

The Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation did not respond to multiple requests for comment over the past week for this story.

DETR spokeswoman Rosa Mendez previously told the Review-Journal that claimants will be able to receive retroactive payments from as early as March 28. But after a news conference last week, Sisolak said that “benefits for all claims will be backdated to March 15.”

The CARES Act stipulates that claimants who have exhausted their regular benefits after July 1, 2019, are eligible to receive an additional 13 weeks of compensation. But it’s up to Nevada as to how and when it wants to implement the additional 13 weeks of benefits.

Mendez told the Review-Journal two weeks ago that people nearing the end of their 26-week maximum benefits would have been on unemployment several months before the coronavirus affected Nevada and they would be ineligible for additional money. She also noted that if claimants try to re-create an account, DETR’s system would recognize they’ve already maxed out their benefits.

But as of April 16, DETR’s website notes that those who have exhausted their unemployment insurance after July 1 are eligible for an additional 13 weeks of benefits. It also said that the provision is “not yet available.”

Krysty Gaytan, who reached the end of her benefits March 9, said she is hoping to be able to receive the 13 weeks of additional pay, especially because she has had to tap into her retirement fund to help pay bills.

“When the bill passed, adding more funds for unemployment, and it would include me, who has already exhausted their benefits, I was like awesome this is great,” she said. “But I’m just a sitting duck waiting and hoping I get the money.”

Gaytan worked part time for an orthodontist in Las Vegas but qualified for unemployment because her pay was below her unemployment insurance benefits. But the office placed her on temporary furlough mid-March.

Gaytan said her husband was able to file and receive unemployment last month after being laid off.

“Luckily, I’ll at least have my part-time job to go back to, but even if I have my part-time job, without my unemployment and just his unemployment, we’re not going to be OK,” she said. “It’s going to be a struggle even after all this is over.”

Contact Subrina Hudson at shudson@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0340. Follow @SubrinaH on Twitter.

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