Misconceptions About Americans Who Receive Public Benefits

A few weeks ago the Center for American Progress ran an article about the facts concerning people who receive public benefits. Its goal was to point out some of the misconceptions that people have about beneficiaries of public assistance and how those misconceptions unfairly influence policy. Learning about these misconceptions is important for voters heading into the election season, as budget reform will be an important issue and will have an impact on Social Security and other government benefits.

Here are some of the facts that the piece pointed out:

  • Most of those receiving public benefits already paid for them – Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance benefits comprise most benefits going to individual Americans, and most beneficiaries have already paid into them through taxes. This is exactly how insurance programs are supposed to work – people pay into them ahead of time with the expectation that, if a catastrophe happens, these programs will be there to provide financial support. Too often, the media attention goes to the few people taking advantage of the system, whereas the vast majority of beneficiaries are not people trying to live off of government benefits, but people merely trying to survive.
  • Most benefits are not in the form of cash – a common misconception is that the federal government is handing out too much cash to people, but only 10 percent of public benefits spending takes the form of cash. And most of that 10 percent is for disability benefits, which people receiving only after proving through a long and difficult process that they are unable to work due to a severe disability. The rest of public benefits takes the form of housing assistance, food stamps, education grants, health insurance and energy assistance.
  • Many beneficiaries are elderly and/or disabled – in some programs like Medicaid, the majority of beneficiaries are elderly and/or disabled. Again, these are not people trying to take advantage of the system, but people who are blind, unable to find work at all, severely disabled or at a point in their lives where they should be retiring but they cannot.

If you have benefited from one of these programs, let us know how much the benefits have helped you and your family.

Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security disability lawyers


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