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1.3 million to lose benefits by end of '09

Jobless since January, Donald Money has already moved in with his elderly parents, stopped going to the movies and started using less of his prescription medication so it will last longer.

This month, something else will fall by the wayside: Money's unemployment check. The 43-year-old former printing press operator is among the more than 1.3 million Americans whose unemployment insurance benefits will run out by the end of the year, placing extra strain on an economy that is just starting to recover from the worst downturn in a generation.

These are the most unfortunate of America's 14.5 million jobless: the ones whose benefits are drying up -- in some cases after a record 18 months of government support.

With savings depleted and job opportunities scarce, people who've run out of benefits are living with relatives and borrowing cash from friends. They are even skipping meals. Through it all, they are trying to stay positive through exercise and prayer.

In the past year, nearly 5.5 million people exhausted their 26 weeks of standard benefits without finding work. The government says the "exhaustion rate" is the highest on records dating from 1972.

Some 3.4 million people now depend upon extended benefits approved by Congress lasting anywhere from 20 weeks to a year -- the longest period of extensions ever added.

The length of these extensions vary by state, depending on the unemployment rate. More than half of all states have unemployment rates that triggered 53 weeks of extended benefits.

The government does not track how many jobless Americans have exhausted both their standard and extended benefits, but experts estimate the figure to be nearly 100,000 -- and rising.

Trying to maintain a good attitude is key, said Mike Allen of Riverside County, Calif., who received about 13 weeks of unemployment benefits earlier in the year. He wasn't eligible for more because he owned his own business and didn't pay enough into the state's unemployment fund to qualify him for more assistance.

Allen, who is 41, moved his wife and 15-year-old daughter into his parents' home in early August.

"They've got a small house," Allen said. "But it's a roof. We'll help out with food."

After their mortgage company refused to work with them on a loan refinancing, the family walked away from their home, which is several hundred thousand dollars underwater.

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