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Social Welfare System in United States

Social Welfare Essay. Programs such as TANF, SSI addressed.

The social welfare system is the backbone to the human service field. A human service worker must be knowledgeable of all the available resources for their clients. Unfortunately this plethora of services never remains static; it often succumbs to the political influence of that time. Although staying cognizant to the every-changing state of the system can prove to be overwhelming to the worker, a client who is not made privy to these changes will suffer the inhumane consequences.

Compared to many other countries the United States is lacking in its collective responsibility. A comparison of the United States and seven other industrialized nations shows the US with the highest poverty rate and the high rate of inequality of income/assets. This is not to say that some recipients of assistance have not been lifted out of poverty, as there are many social programs that have relieved the burden of “the poor, the tired, and the huddled masses”. However it is unsettling how many people are left in the dark due to reforms.

Social Security (officially Old Age, Survivors, and Disability insurance) is a program funded by employee and employer taxes. It was established in 1935 when the federal government took on the responsibility for helping those in need. This program has been highly successful and its recipients receive little to no negative media attention. Although it has been highly beneficial, with only 8% of the elderly in poverty (as compared to 35% in 1959), there have been attempts by conservatives to privatize this program. They would prefer people to invest their savings into the stock market. These conservatives also oppose paying Social Security Tax relative to total income. As it stands up to only $87,900 can be taxed which means Bill Gates is paying as much SSI tax as a mid-level executive. Although this is an entitlement program, (which tend to be stigmatized) it is greatly supported and protected from cutbacks by the middle class.

One of the most controversial programs available to those in need is the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (which is now called Temporary Assistance to Needy Families). It was designed to provide income to families with dependent children. Many politicians gain public favor when proposing to “be tough” on welfare as in 1996 when Bill Clinton implemented the Personal Responsibility Act. Until then every one who was eligible was entitled. Conservatives saw this as a victory since 22% of rolls were cut; however it was due to restrictive eligibility. The Personal Responsible Act set limits to welfare. Eligible recipients could only receive a lifetime limit of five years; subsequently states had the power to shorten that limit.

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