US Welfare is a broad term that defines government-funded social or economic programs created to assist those who can demonstrate need. The US welfare system dates back to the Great Depression of the 1930s when more than sixty percent of households were living in poverty through no fault of their own. Many changes to the system have been made since then, but the original focus remains the same: to prevent American citizens from living in a state of poverty and to help the unemployed find long term work.
US Welfare can be divided into two categories, social and economic. Social welfare services includes any program intended to help disadvantaged people function more fully in society while economic welfare generally refers to financial support. The main purpose of an economic welfare system is to assist citizens who are not able to support themselves or their families due to unemployment, underemployment, hardship, unskilled labor capacity, disability, or other similar reasons. In many cases, elderly persons and single parents may also be eligible for aid. To receive benefits, most programs require proof of financial need as compared to a set standard. This is due to welfare abuse in the past that has threatened the credibility of the system. A common tool for this is a means test, which estimates earnings and measures them against the standard of living. When the income falls below what is considered to be the poverty level, economic assistance is given. In some cases, a person may be required to show regular attempts to gain employment in order to receive welfare benefits.
US welfare services and benefits may include direct cash, support services, tax breaks, specific goods, or any other measure that provides assistance to individuals or families that can meet welfare requirements. When direct cash is given, the recipient has free rein to disperse the money. However, the use of in-kind benefits instead of cash tends to be more common in the US welfare system. Health care, vouchers for childcare, electronic bank cards for food purchases, subsidized rent, tax discounts such as the Earned income Tax Credit (EITC), job assistance and training, and programs for alcohol and substance abuse are examples of in-kind goods and services that may be awarded, and each one can be extremely useful to those in need.
Many Americans are probably familiar with the welfare services of Food Stamp, Head Start, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families programs. However, there are many additional sources of welfare aid available to help break the cycle of poverty in the United States. For example, there are programs to assist with job training, unemployment compensation, assistance with energy costs, and much more. Welfare information and helpful programs can be found at several agencies, such as the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the US Department of Labor (DOL). Other agencies that administer welfare services include the US Department of Education, the US Department of Agriculture, and the US Department of the Treasury.
The US welfare system was created to help Americans in need. But welfare abuse has been a serious issue that has caused strict regulations for welfare services on who is eligible and how welfare can be used. As long as each of us work to use the system correctly and not commit welfare abuse we can help to ensure protection over the programs that so many of us need.
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