Can anyone successfully live off of only welfare programs?
Debate Rounds (5)
1. The example we will discuss will be a white male, age 23, single, without dependents.
2. We will assume that this person has worked for three years in a furniture factory, earning $27,000/year.
3. We will assume that this person quit his job one week ago, after receiving a warning from his boss to be better involved with his work, and to stop daydreaming and bragging on himself. He has $1900 in his bank account, and $1200 cash value in a life insurance policy, which he can drop any time and keep the money without surrender charges.
4. We will assume this person is physically healthy.
I will attempt to prove that even a person who meets these requirements can qualify to receive enough welfare benefits to support himself and meet his old income, $27,000/year, without having to work. I will assume his tax rate, which includes federal income tax, Social Security tax and Medicare tax, to be 11.10%. I will also assume that his current rent for one bedroom and one bathroom apartment, with a kitchen and small living room to be about $750/month. I will assume his food costs to be $250/month and $200/month for water and electricity.
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When my opponent says: "the average amount played to an individual person is 300$ per month", I assume he means that the average welfare payment to the recipient of said demographics is $300 per month. I will attempt to prove this incorrect by providing an argument that the benefit amount can be much more. For the rest of the debate, I will assume that the individual example resides in the state of Tennessee, my personal home state.
To begin, I shall start with Social Security. With Social Security, you pay contribution taxes on any earned income you make in a given year into the program, up to a cap of approximately $115,000/year. The three types of benefits paid out by the program to beneficiaries are survivor, retirement and disability. I will skip over discussion of survivor benefits, as they are not really important to the topic at hand, and focus on retirement and disability.
To qualify for retirement and disability benefits, you must have worked for a certain number of years, and paid taxes into the program, thus earning you work credits. You earn a work credit for every $1260 you earn, up to a maximum of four credits per year. You generally need 40 work credits to qualify for retirement benefits, while the number of credits needed to qualify for disability varies according to what age you file at. You need less credits if you file while you are younger, such as before the age of 24, in which case you need only six credits earned in the last three years before you became disabled. The amount of benefit you receive will depend on how much you earned while you were working, and how long you worked before claiming your benefits. Generally, however, the average disability payment ranges from between $1000 and $1200 a month.
I know what you're thinking: "What's all this have to do with anything? The guy in the above circumstances (let's call him "Tony" to save time) isn't disabled. You said he was physically healthy." That's very true. Tony is probably not really disabled. However, it is extremely surprising what the SSA will categorize as "disabled".
You will remember that Tony's boss warned him to stop bragging and daydreaming. Believe it or not, that actually could technically qualify as a disability!
The process by which the SSA determines whether or not something qualifies as a disability is fairly simple. First, they want to know if your condition has lasted, or can be expected to last, for twelve months. If the answer is yes, then they want to know if your condition is affecting your work. If the answer to that is yes, then they check their Adult List of Impairments to see if your condition is listed. Assuming that he could get a medical documentation of his habits, Tony's condition could fit under section 12.4 of the list, as a mental illness known as an "affective disorder". To satisfy the requirements for this clarification, Tony would have to have inflated self-esteem (his bragging could qualify for this), easy distractibility (daydreaming would count) and one other symptom which he probably doesn't have, but would be easy to fake, such as hyperactivity. That isn't all, however. He would also need to prove that his disorder was limiting his social functioning (which if he brags on himself rather often, and people avoid him because of it, this shouldn't be too hard to prove), and that because of it, he displays marked difficulties in maintaining a consistent pace. If he can do this, he can qualify for the program.
I know that the possibility of that working sounds far fetched, but it really isn't. All it takes is a few medical tests, and those are usually gone through as a formality to receive benefits, rather than as an actual eligibility process.
So, let's assume Tony successfully undergoes the above process of applying for and receiving Social Security Disability. He would probably get at least $1000 a month, if not more, so I'll assume that's the benefit amount. He then looks into applying for Supplemental Security Income, or SSI. This program is administered by the SSA, although it is paid for out of general tax revenues. The basic requirements of this program are that the beneficiary has to again be disabled, and also low income, to the tune of under $700 per month in gross income. Applying for this program should be much easier than applying for SSD. After all, you've already proved that you're disabled, and you are being compensated for it. The process would pretty much consist of filling out the paperwork and sending it in. The benefit for this program is about $730 a month. Some states will add to this amount by anywhere from between $10-200 a month. However, since Tony resides in Tennessee, he doesn't get any extra money because Tennessee is not one of the states that adds to the basic amount.
When someone qualifies for SSI, in most states they automatically also qualify for Medicaid, LIHEAP, and food stamps. Medicaid is basically free health insurance which pays for your doctors and hospital visits, and also usually pays at least in part for services such as dentistry, optical needs and prescription drugs. Occasionally the recipient of the benefits needs to pay a deductible or a premium to help cover expenses, but this is usually not the case if your income is low enough to qualify for SSI. Although this isn't an actual cash welfare benefit, if Tony receives this, he'll no longer have to pay for health insurance. So, it certainly has some value to it. I'll put the value at about $150 a month, which sounds like a fairly conservative estimate given the normal premium charges for health insurance these days.
LIHEAP stands for The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. This program pays a discount on your utility bills, up to a maximum of $600 a year. The regular benefit is usually about 20% to 40% off, though. I'll assume Tony gets just 20% off his monthly bill of $200, which works out to $480 per year.
As for the food stamps, there are essentially two food programs for which Tony would probably be eligible for. The first is the food stamp program, otherwise known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. For this program, you're given an EBT card, which works like a debit card. Your benefit is loaded onto the card each month, and you swipe it when you buy food items. Although the maximum benefit is $194 a month, I doubt Tony would qualify for that much since he already qualifies for SSD and SSI. He would probably only get about $20 a month from this program. As for the other program, The Emergency Food Assistance Program, or TEFAP, Tony would probably qualify for a much larger benefit. The way this program is set up, the U.S. Department of Agriculture provides funding to authorized food banks, who buy food and have it shipped to their warehouses. Whenever someone signs up for the program, the USDA assigns a benefit card to that person, who is then assigned to the food bank closest to their area. Then, the program beneficiary goes to the food bank, verifies their identity, and is supplied with food to take home. Although it is difficult to clearly estimate the value of this benefit, I think approximately $100 a month is fairly close.
The last two programs that Tony qualifies for would be Lifeline and Section 8 Housing. The Lifeline program provides cell phone coverage for it's beneficiaries, and the main part of the program provides the following: 1. A free, basic cellphone. 2. 500 minutes per month for the first 6 months of the program, and 250 minutes per month for every month thereafter. 3. Unlimited text messaging. The value of this benefit is easily $20 a month.
Section 8 housing is administered by the Housing and Urban Development Agency, or HUD. The way the program works is that landlords can sign their housing up for the program, after agreeing to what HUD declares to be a fair rent payment. The program beneficiary is then supplied with a voucher, which he can use to pay the landlord the rent with. He then can look over all the housing available under the program and decide where he wants to live. Once the rental contract is drawn up, the beneficiary moves in and pays the rent with the voucher, for as long as he is a member of the program. The program beneficiary is required to pay 30% of his Adjusted Gross Income for rent, and the voucher is issued for the valence. However, in Tony's case, since he no longer has Adjusted Gross Income since he no longer works, his rental payment would be 100% covered by the program.
True, Tony's new apartment rental might not be as nice as his old place for whatever reason. This isn't always the case, but I'll assume the benefit is worth $650 a month in rent.
Now that I've outlined what programs Tony would qualify for, let's add it all up and see how much benefits Tony can receive per year, and whether it is close enough to his normal income of $27,000 a year to convince him to give up work and live off the welfare system.
Section 8 Housing: $7800
Not only would Tony make over $5000 more living off welfare than continuing to work his old job, but he would also save himself another $2997 in taxes, since he wouldn't owe any taxes on his benefit payments. Now instead of working, Tony could just do basically whatever he wanted to without having to worry about support. It would be similar to a very early retirement.
This concludes my argument for Round 1. I look forward to my opponent's argument in the following round.
If Tony can prove that he had to leave his job because of an affective disorder, than he can qualify as disabled, even if he worked a job previously. His condition just needs to be expected to last 12 months or longer. SSI is for disabled people and if Tony can qualify for SSD, than he can qualify for SSI, because he's already been accepted into the other disability program and because he makes less than $700 a month (he no longer works, so his monthly income would be $0, since other welfare benefits don't count as income when figuring out eligibility for SSI).
It's true, Tony probably doesn't really have an affective disorder, but if he shows the signs of it, he can qualify for it, as long as those signs are documented by medical tests. Thus, he can then qualify for SSD and SSI.
Oh, and one more point about SSD not being a a thing. Social Security was originally set up with a retirement and survival benefit program. You only received retirement benefits if you paid into the system. The provision for disability benefits was added in 1956. The way it is set up, the earliest you can claim your retirement "pension" so to speak is at the age of 62. With the disability benefit, you're basically taking your retirement benefit early. That's why if you are still receiving the disability benefit by the age of 62, you are automatically switched over from disability benefit to retirement benefit, though the payment amount does not change. You do have to pay into the system to receive disability benefits just like with retirement. Though the disability benefits are supposed to be temporary in theory, it is entirely possible (and somewhat common) for them to be permanent.
LIHEAP: $480/year - 480$
SNAP: $240/year - 720$
TEFAP: $1200/year - 1,720
Lifeline: $240/year - 1,960$
Section 8 Housing: $7800/year - 9,760$
Obcourse, goveronment benefits aren't tax deductible, so after taxes, Tony would earn 24,000$ a year, on benefits, he could only get 9,760$.
Also, I wish to point out that you made a slight accounting error in the last round. Please notice that when you added the yearly benefit coming from both LIHEAP and SNAP combined ($720) to the benefit coming from TEFAP ($1200), you came up with $1720. That is $200 short, as $720 + $1200 = $1920. That means that your sum total should have been $9,960, not $9760.
However, since you have not yet provided grounds for Tony to be denied his disability benefits that stand up under scrutiny, I'm afraid that until you do so, I must insist that my figure of $30,720 (plus the $2997 in saved taxes) remains correct. I look forward to your argument for Round 4!
Tony can claim that he developed his condition gradually, and that it has now reached the point where it affects his work so severely that he is no longer capable of performing gainful activity. His former employer would probably testify that is entirely likely. After all, why should an employee with a fairly decent track record suddenly start performing unsatisfactory?
Does Tony really have a disability? Probably not. Then why would he claim to have one? Simply because Tony can see the window of opportunity. He can see that by taking advantage of the current system, he can make more money each year than he previously could without working for it. He sees that now he can have an extra 40 hours a week to pursue his hobbies, or just loaf around and conserve his strength, while other do the work and help pay for his new "retirement" lifestyle.
This concludes my argument for this debate. I would like to thank my opponent for participating in this debate, and I would also like to thank DDO for hosting this debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Ragnar 9 months ago
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Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.
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