The U.S. federal government has put in place various welfare programs to cater for the needs of certain vulnerable groups within the society. There are distinctive qualities that define an individual’s eligibility to a welfare program. These programs target different groups of people in society. This paper explores the available U.S. welfare programs in respect to their beneficiaries.
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First, social security programs majorly provide benefits for military veterans. Military veterans constitute almost a quarter of the social security programs beneficiaries; 9.4 million military veterans received survivors, disability, or old age benefits from the Social Security program (Olsen, 2005/2006, p. 3). This population has exceeded its prime age and does not have the strength to support itself adequately.
It is pertinent to note how policymakers determine income credit for beneficiaries of the Social Security programs. In this light, the veteran population predominantly influences the economic well-being of the beneficiaries of the Social Security.
Importantly, the characteristic of the military veteran recipients of the Social Security benefits differs from the overall beneficiaries of the Social Security (Olsen, 2005/2006, p. 3). Most of the veteran beneficiaries are males relative to the overall beneficiaries. Other striking differences project the military veterans from other beneficiaries include marital status, and level of education among others.
The Social Security program benefits the eligible population through offering financial support. Since 1957, the Social Security programs have covered military personnel, and particularly those who served in 2001 or prior, obtained notable credits that increased their income for the aim of calculating the Social Security benefits.
According to Olsen, between 1957 and 1977, these credits totaled $300 per quarter of active-duty reimbursement (2005/2006, p. 2). Further, between 1978 and 2001, credits equal to an extra $100 in pay for each $300 they get in active-duty reimbursement.
Who funds such social programs? According to Martin (2007), Social Security programs receive funding from payroll taxes (p. 74). Therefore, the economic status of the U.S. at one point in time, strongly determines the ability of the government to sustain the Social Security program. Economic recession may force policy makers to adjust the eligibility criteria for the Social Security benefits to cover fewer people in dire need of the benefit to reduce the burden on government’s budget.
The second social program discussed in this paper is the Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The SSI covers disabled and elderly people who have inadequate earnings and assets. The Social Security Administration (SSA) funds the SSI it although distinctly from the Social Security program (Martin, 2007, p. 74). As opposed to Social Security program, the general funds of the United States Treasury support SSI and limit payments to the U.S. nationals and certain groups of eligible aliens.
The eligibility criteria for the SSI are wide. Individuals in the 50 states coupled with the District of Columbia, and some U.S. territories, except Puerto Rico can access the SSI program. Noteworthy, most states provide an addition to the federal benefit.
Policymakers base the eligibility criterion for the SSI on the economic status of individuals. Martin (2007) observes that, the SSI beneficiaries had same high poverty rates, which was above 40 percent (p. 91).
In addition, the education status for the SSI beneficiary was mainly high school diploma, characteristic of 45 percent of the beneficiaries. Like the Social Security, the SSI sustainability is reliant on the U.S. economy. Global economic trends determine the United States’ general funding such that, low revenues may force program benefactor to cut down on its beneficiaries.
The third welfare program is the Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) program. This program protects the work-age population against the negative financial repercussions of becoming disabled (Rupp, Davies, & Strand, 2008, p. 2).
Nevertheless, the question remains, to what degree does the DI insure against financial repercussions of disability? The program automatically covers any person who is DI insured. In this regard, the idea of coverage is broader than the idea of program participation. Most of those covered by the DI are not continuing participants because, either they fail to apply or have applied but do not satisfy the disability criteria of the program.
Insurance premiums fund the DI program. Thus, this program is relatively stable because not most applicants end up disabled or meet the disability criteria. This program just safeguards the future of the citizens.
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Martin, P. P. (2007). Hispanics, Social Security, and Supplemental Security Income. Social Security Bulletin , 67(2), 73-101.
Olsen, A. (2005/2006). Military Veterans and Social Security. Social Security Bulletin , 66(2), 1-7.
Rupp, K., Davies, P. S., & Strand, A. (2008). Disability Benefit Coverage and Program Interactions. Social Security Bulletin , 68(1), 1-31.