Published on 2012/02/10

Congress Changes Benefits For Americans Without GED

Last week, the US House of Representatives passed a bill that proposes sweeping changes to the regulations regarding unemployment benefits, including a change regarding educational attainment.

According to the new bill, which must still pass through the Senate, unemployment beneficiaries without a high school diploma or GED must work toward that certification to remain eligible.

While House Republicans argue that the GED is important in the job hunt, the point is a sore one. A liberal think tank, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, released an analysis decrying the move.

The Center called it “”inequitable to single out workers with the lowest levels of educational attainment and target them for a denial of benefits after they have worked—often for years—and then been laid off due to no fault of their own.”

Elizabeth Lower-Basch, a Senior Policy Analyst at the Center for Law and Social Policy, wrote in the Huffington Post that without the infrastructure to support this change, unemployed persons will have an even more difficult time making ends meet.

“It is bad policy to require these workers to enroll in education programs without doing anything to increase access to adult education services,” she wrote. “A recent survey found that nearly every state had a waiting list for adult education services and that nearly three-quarters of local programs reported waiting lists. This means that even if a worker wanted to enroll in an adult education program, there is no guarantee that he or she could.”

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