Welfare is a government program that provides money, medical care, food, housing, and other things that people need in order to survive. People who can receive help from these welfare programs are children, elders, disabled, and others who cannot support their families on their current income. Another name for welfare is public assistance. There are many organizations that supply this public assistance. Such as Salvation Army and other groups. Public assistance benefits help many people who live below the poverty line, an income level is established for families. If your income is below this you would be eligible to receive this help.
Welfare in the United States
Federal and state governments in the Unites States serve the poor people through about 60 public assistance programs. Most people receive help through one of the four major programs. These programs are Medicaid, Aid to families with dependant Children, Social Security, or Supplemental Security, or the food stamps program. I will discuss the four programs individually.
Medicaid provides free medical care to the poor people. Funds vary from state to state. In some situations, people who may be able to pay daily needs, but can’t afford large medical bills may also be able to receive Medicaid. Some services paid for are bills such as doctor’s visits and nursing home care. Most Medicaid funding comes from the federal government. The rest is supplied by the state. Each state runs their own Medicaid program.
A.F.D.C. provides cash benefits to dependent children and the parents or the guardians taking care of them. Most families that qualify for A.F.D.C. have just one parent in the home. About 80 percent of these families are headed by a woman. A.F.D.C. also pays benefits to two-parent families if both parents are unemployed. Most A.F.D.C. funding comes from the federal government. The states provide the rest of the money and administer the program. The sizes of families’ payment vary from state to state. Next is Social Security Income. This provides financial Aid to people in need who are at least 65 years old, blind, or disabled. The federal government finances and administers social security income programs in most states, though some states supply the federal payment and are able to run their own programs.
Finally, the Food Stamp Program helps low-income households buy more and better food than they could otherwise afford. Each participating household receives a certain number of coupons called food stamps. The stamps are issued by the federal government. The number of stamps a household receives varies with the family’s size, income, and expenses. Cooperating grocery stores accept the stamps like money for food purchases only.
There are other programs such as energy assistance and public housing. Energy assistance, which is federally financed but administered by the states, helps people pay fuel bills. Public housing provides low cost rental apartments in government owned buildings. State and local governments fund and administer their own general assistance programs. These programs provide financial aid for needy people who do not qualify for other types of welfare. People waiting to receive assistance from other programs also may get temporary emergency aid from general assistance.
Back in the early days, welfare resembled the English system. Social governments were responsible for helping the poor. But the colonies and later the states, sometimes helped the local government provide aid. The first federal welfare program, began after the Revolutionary War, they provided pensions to war veterans. During the Civil War these pensions were expanded to cover soldiers’ widows and orphans. In the early 1900’s, primary responsibility for providing welfare benefits shifted from local to state governments. During these years, states enacted programs to aid dependent children and the elderly.
The criticisms of welfare ranges over a number of social and economic issues. Some people criticize welfare programs for not providing high enough benefits to eliminate poverty. Spending on welfare would have to increase greatly to eliminate poverty, and many people believe the cost is already too high.
Many critics of the welfare system charge that providing a steady income to needy people encourages idleness. Actually, most welfare benefits go to elderly, blind, and disabled people and mothers with young children. But welfare does discourage some recipients from working harder by reducing benefits if their income increases.
Many people also criticize the welfare system for being too complex and costly to administer. Each program has its own eligibility requirements and ways of calculating benefits, and these rules vary from state to state. Public officials collect detailed information about applicants to determine their eligibility for benefits. This process is time-consuming and costly. Some people cheat the system by not reporting all the income they earn. But suppliers of services to welfare recipients account for most of the fraud in welfare. Some physicians, pharmacists, and others have been overpaid because they have made up false bills. In my opinion I believe you need welfare because people do need help. But I would lower its percent because it won’t hurt that much. Most importantly we have to do a better job at finding all the people who cheat the program and make them work to repay it.
1. World Almanac and Book of Facts 1995 Published by: Funk & Wagnalls Corporation
2. World Almanac 1989 Published by: Washington Times Corporation