Anyone who has never received public assistance may wonder why someone would want to sacrifice “good living” to live on welfare. However, some who have received contributions from the government for many years could argue what they have is good living.
Whether they’re getting free health insurance, financial assistance or housing, many people who receive public assistance have fewer worries than those who work. This is why when you look at the pros and cons of remaining on welfare, the reasons some choose to stay begin to make sense.
The Reasons People Request Public Assistance
There is a huge stigma attached to the welfare system and those who receive assistance through it. Most think of housing projects, tons of kids and food stamps when they hear the word “welfare.” In actuality, it’s not a system created for those who refuse to work. Instead, it is meant to help those who are in temporary need of assistance due to extenuating circumstances.
With the recent recession taking its toll on the economy, the number of people receiving welfare is increasing. Let’s take a look at some reasons that many opt into the welfare system:
- Illness/disability: Some workers are perfectly content with working their jobs, but after a sudden bout with an illness or becoming disabled they need federal or state assistance to help them manage their finances.
- Job loss: Workers who have been laid off from their jobs often receive unemployment benefits and food stamps to eat and provide shelter for their families.
- Disabled child: Some parents intentionally reduce their income to ask for Medicaid assistance because insurance companies won’t accept their children with preexisting conditions.
- Aging: It’s very common for elders to take advantage of government assistance when they reach their early and mid-60s. Senior citizens are able to receive Social Security benefits when they turn 62 and Medicare at 65. The reason that these two forms of public assistance are not frowned upon is because the retired workers have spent 30-plus years on the job and many feel they have earned the right to stop working.
Often times, circumstances beyond a person’s control land them in a position where they must ask for assistance from someone. If they don’t have family members or friends who can help then they may have to ask for help from the government.
This explains what can land a person in the welfare system, but what makes them stay?
Why Some Remain in the System
While some are willing to accept public assistance then walk away when the help is no longer needed, there are others who prefer to stay within the system their entire lives. Some reasons people stay on welfare include:
- Not all public housing is bad: The assumption with public housing is that everyone must live in the projects, but some Housing Authority (Section 8 ) programs offer vouchers that allow recipients to live in nice homes at a significantly-reduced price.
- Tons of freebies are available: Whether they’re getting food stamps, cash aid, child care assistance, health care or even a free cell phone and car with free insurance, inspection, excise tax, title, registration, repairs and AAA membership, there are tons of freebies available. Of course, these freebies are meant to assist the unemployed with food and shelter, as well as put them in a better position to find a job. However, some find remaining unemployed is a better option.
- A fixed income to rely on: Unlike workers who may have to stress about whether they will lose their jobs and income, people on welfare have a plan laid out that guarantees the benefits they get are the ones they will keep. These options offer a stress-reduced way to live.
In addition to the above reasons, there are those who just don’t know anything else. Some children were born and raised in the welfare system and have never had access to any other lifestyle. Therefore, unless they’re outwardly encouraged to strive for more, many remain a part of the system and unintentionally encourage their children to do the same.
Is Breaking Away from the System an Option?
Just like many of the rags to riches stories we’ve seen over the past centuries, anyone is able to break free of the welfare services cycle.
Unfortunately, many realize that if they were to get a job, the money they would make based on their education–and after taxes–would be equal to or less than what they’re already receiving from public assistance, without added benefits. In other words, not everyone will jump from rags to riches and this can be discouraging.
The good news is many former welfare recipients have transitioned slowly out of the system into an independent lifestyle. By taking advantage of free resources offered by government centers, charity groups and some private companies, some have been able to start and finish school, find a job, acquire low-cost child care, buy health insurance and even save money to rent or buy a home.
It’s not an easy goal, but one that can achieved with confidence, diligence and a lot of support. So if it’s something that you or someone you know truly wants, inquire with your local government office today to find out what steps are necessary to make a safe transition from welfare to a life of independence.