The United States government pays billions of dollars in benefits each month. According to data gathered by Forbes Magazine from United States Census Bureau data, in 2011, some 49.2 percent of U.S. households received benefits from one or more government programs—about 151 million out of an estimated 306.8 million Americans. That’s a staggering number to wrap your head around. Let’s break down the numbers:
Social Security and Medicare
Some 42 million seniors currently receive Social Security and Medicare. Now, let’s put this number in perspective. Perhaps, among all the government benefits program, those receiving Medicare and Social Security fall under the entitlement programs category because they have paid into the system and are reaping the benefits. They are not getting anything for free. They worked hard, paid into the government system in the hopes that at a later date, they will reap the benefits.
Food Stamps (SNAP Benefits)
Food stamps, now called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is another large benefits program administered by the United States government through the U.S Department of Agriculture. The food stamps program falls under the means-tested poverty programs, which include Medicaid and subsidized lunches. As of September 2014, there were 46.5 million people on food stamps, receiving average benefits of $123.74 per month and around $257 per household. But as you can see from the image above, the picture surrounding food stamps recipients is more complicated than you hear on the news.
Cash Assistance (TANF)
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) provides monthly cash benefits to very low-income families based on eligibility standards set by the states. The only twist with this program is that it is not considered an entitlement program. That means that those who are eligible are not guaranteed benefits. The main goal of TANF is to help recipient get employment. That’s why TANF recipients must meet stringent work requirements and there is also a time limit on how long they can continue to receive the cash assistance.