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Beneficiaries of U.S. Welfare Programs, Essay Example

Pages: 3

Words: 749

Essay

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt initiated the establishment of the first federal U.S. welfare programs during his presidency in 1935. (morganwrites, 2008) Since then, many changes have been made with new programs, regulations, and guidelines added, but the national welfare system has persisted. Three of the welfare programs in operation today are the SNAP/Medicaid program, Social Security program, and the unemployment program. These three programs help a range of people within the U.S. by providing many different types of services.

The U.S. welfare program that encompasses SNAP (formerly foodstamps), Medicaid, and TANF services underwent significant reform in the 1990s concerning who is considered eligible for the program. SNAP provides money, accessible by a debit card, solely usable for the purchase of food at grocery stores. Medicaid is a medical insurance program. TANF, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, provides a supplemental cash allowance for general use. In addition to these three main services, the Welfare program also refers recipients to other programs, such as energy assistance, low-cost housing, and Headstart preschool, as well as provides job training. (Infolouisiana, 2003) The population served by the welfare program must be U.S. citizens and must meet very specific income guidelines, specifically recipients must be below 130% of the federal poverty income level. (Infolouisiana, 2003)

The Social Security program within the U.S. provides a fixed monthly paycheck based on the individual income history and eligibility guidelines for Medicare insurance. Social Security and Medicare are provided to retired individuals U.S. citizens, usually over the age of 65, who have paid income taxes above a certain amount during the course of their work lives. Medicare is a medical insurance program provided to income eligible Social Security recipients.

The federal unemployment program is meant to provide temporary fixed income for unemployed U.S. citizens. The monetary amount given each recipient is based on the income of the individual’s last job. People eligible for this service usually must have been unfairly fired or laid off. (IN.gov, 2010)

How well do these programs meet the goal of providing adequate support to program recipients? The answer to that question varies for each of the three programs. The welfare program that includes SNAP, Medicaid, and TANF has always been very controversial on this question. The positives are that the amount of foodstamps are usually high enough to provide groceries for recipients and Medicaid covers all medical costs for a wide range of needs. On the negative side, TANF, while meant to be supplemental, does not meet Ѕ the cost-of-living expenses for recipients yet the extremely low income eligibility does not allow for income that covers ѕ of living expenses. Referral programs are often full with long waiting lists and the job training provided varies from office to office. One alternative to providing monetary aid and job “training” would be a social employment service that would place recipients in full-time jobs, minimum wage jobs. Another suggestion is to provide benefits, possibly in the form of tax cuts, to businesses, such as daycares and landlords, which agree to take part in providing services for low-income welfare recipients.

In considering the U.S. Social Security program, it falls short of providing adequate support for its recipients. The fixed income schedule does not account for cost-of-living increases. As the cost goods and services increase, retired individuals are forced to either cut back on necessary expenses, such as medicine and food, or seek employment in a narrowed job market. Medicare coverage is not inclusive of many medical costs, including many prescriptions, and recipients usually require additional insurance and out-of-pocket expenses for medical care. Social Security has been a hot topic in recent years. Some of the alternatives to the alternatives to the current program include allowing employees to choose how to invest the portion of income that currently goes into Social Security in private plans instead and introducing a universal medical coverage program for recipients.

Of the three programs, the unemployment program does the best at meeting its goal. Unemployment succeeds in providing a percentage of lost income to help tide families/individuals over until new employment is gained. When combined with other welfare benefits, such as SNAP, unemployment is usually adequate provided new employment can be gained before the temporary benefits run out.

Bibliography

IN.gov. (2010, November 19). Indiana Department of Workforce Development: Unemployment Information. Retrieved November 20, 2010, from IN.gov: http://www.in.gov/dwd/2358.htm

Infolouisiana. (2003, November 20). Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. Retrieved November 20, 2010, from Infolousiana: http://doa.louisiana.gov/tanf/faq.htm

morganwrites. (2008, February 23). The Welfare System in the United States – Part 1. Retrieved November 20, 2010, from MorganWrites: http://morganwrites.wordpress.com/2008/02/23/how-welfare-began-in-the-united-states-part-1/

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