Can anyone successfully live off of only welfare programs?
Debate Rounds (5)
In the interest of providing more thought provoking and substantial debates, I have proposed the following question for discussion: "Can anyone successfully live off of only welfare programs?" I will be taking the Pro position, and my opponent's objective will be to argue that the current amount of welfare programs available cannot provide a substantial amount of income to live off of, without committing to deep sacrifices in lifestyle. Since there are special programs created to serve only women and minorities with dependents, I will propose the following specifics, which will make the Pro position a little harder to prove:
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.
Anyone who forfeits a debate round loses the debate automatically. If you cannot commit to the time it takes to finish the debate, please do not accept the challenge. For an idea of what my argument will be like, see the previous debate:
I hope that this will be a fun, educational and invigorating debate!
My opponent requests the following: "I only ask that you select a state for state welfare and state taxes or if the debate is only focusing on welfare at the federal level." This is only fair, since welfare programs vary a good deal between different states. Unless my opponent requests otherwise, I will assume my example outlined in the first round resides in the state of Tennessee, my personal home state. I think this is fair, since Tennessee is fairly conservative, and doesn't have many state programs in place as opposed to California.
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.
What pro's whole argument is based on is the idea that Tony, our fictional worker who has taken on a new hobby of defrauding the government whether legal or not, is approved for each one of these programs. Some are more selective than others. And I too will start with SSD.
Now Tony is not very lucky at this point, because the acceptance rate for SSD at the application point is only 24% , this is because Tony is not alone in his pursuit and there are many claims for SSD. Now Tony can make a claim for SSD for his so called "mental disorder", but that does not guarantee acceptance. What the DDS (Disability Determination service) will do is review his case and see if because of this disability he could no longer work any job, unfortunately for him that would most likely not be the case for his disorder as it would simply make him annoying to be around. So if Tony disagrees with being denied he can appeal all the way up to an appeal hearing where is chance of being approved is the highest, at 62.9%. But in that span the average wait is 376 days, meaning he goes 376 days without any SSD payments. But for the fact of the numbers lets say he is approved on the first application, very fortunate for him. Now according to the SSA, in 2005 which is the latest year of public statistics on SSD and SSI, the average SSD for a disabled worker is slightly below pro's presented number, at $938 per month, which I know makes me picking at close facts but thats a $62 difference per month, totaling out to be $744 for the year
For SSI, the average SSI payment for a disabled worker in the state of Tennessee was $410 per month . That is a $320 difference from pros unsubstantiated claim of $730. Which totals out to be $3840 less per year for Tony.
Now for Medicaid, assuming he wasn't provided health care at work which isn't impossible, due to his low income he would qualify for silver plan with cost assistance subsidies totaling only $69 per month. Which means by getting medicaid Tony only saves $69 per month rather than $150. This results in a price difference of $81 per month and $972 per year.
For LIHEAP I concede that he will save $480 per year through that specific program. And he only qualifies if he made less than $17k per year so he is going to save that money.
Food stamps again he qualifies only if he is unemployed compared to his current salary so he again saves that money.
Lifeline is a another program I concede to pro is correct.
Section 8 housing is where things get complicated. Pro states, "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." This statement is not true. There is such a thing as imputed welfare income, which is calculated into the income, which is defined as, "all amounts, monetary or not" which go to the family. So every form of welfare that Tony has received is going to be counted as income, which Tony will then have to pay 30% of. Doing some calculations: (sum of welfare benefits x 30%)=(19164 x 30%)= $5749.2 per year. His apartment would typically cost $7800 per year for his cheaper apartment. Meaning his savings are only $2050.8 rather than the $7800 as mentioned by pro.
Now that these facts and numbers have been accounted for, lets add once again the numbers.
Section 8 Housing: $4920/year
Now to conclude on this number, it is $2916 less than what Tony made working his job. But again this does not take into consideration that Tony will pay taxes on his income if he is working. Using a paycheck calculator. Tony, who is making $27k per year, will pay $5,314 in taxes bring his income down to $21,686. Which I understand is less than what Tony makes off of the welfare system by $2,398. But this is all contingent on the idea that Tony qualifies for each one of these programs. Which cannot be met to every single person who applies. If Tony is rejected for Section 8 housing, SSD, or SSI he will then be earning less than he would be with his job. This is also assuming that Tony receives no benefits while working. The overall question of the debate being, can someone successfully live off of welfare, I would argue no, they cannot. This is in part because I do not feel Tony makes enough doing the job he does now. For a person making only $27k per year they are barely making less than what they could on welfare. So when the median income in the US is $50,502 , for most American's there would be a large decrease in yearly income and a subsequent decrease in life quality.
I will begin with SSD, once again. Con seems to think that the possibility of Tony receiving his SSD benefits are rather slim. Since, according to Con, "What the DDS (Disability Determination service) will do is review his case and see if because of this disability he could no longer work any job, unfortunately for him that would most likely not be the case for his disorder as it would simply make him annoying to be around."
Con makes a slight error in this sentence. Notice he says: "he could no longer work any job". This is not what it says on the SSA's website. According to the section of the website entitled "Disability Planner: How We Decide If You Are Disabled",  there is a step-by-step process involving five questions to determine if you are eligible for benefits. The first question is: "Are you working?" Tony is not working since he left his job. That takes care of that question. The second one is: "Is your condition 'severe'?" Underneath that question it says: "Your condition must interfere with basic work-related activities for your claim to be considered. If it does not, we will find that you are not disabled." Tony's "affective disorder is clearly interfering with his work-related activities. True, as my opponent says: "it would simply make him annoying to be around." But since that is one of the signs of an affective disorder, it would count as a work interference, and thus a "severe" condition. The third question is as follows: "Is your condition found in the list of disabling conditions?" Underneath the question is written the following: "For each of the major body systems, we maintain a list of medical conditions that are so severe they automatically mean that you are disabled. If your condition is not on the list, we have to decide if it is of equal severity to a medical condition that is on the list. If it is, we will find that you are disabled. If it is not, we then go to Step 4."
Is Tony's condition in the list of medical conditions? Certainly. It's listed in the section for Adult Impairments, under section 12.4, titled: "affective disorders". I encourage my opponent (and the audience) to go the link provided below , and see if the requirements to be classified as having this condition are met in Tony's case. Con, if you don't think Tony meets the requirements, please state so in your next argument, and I will refute the matter there. Until then, I will assume that you accept Tony as fitting the requirements for the affective disorder classification.
Now, the last two questions on the Disability Planner section of the website are: "Can you do the work you did previously?" and "Can you do any other type of work?" But these questions are not addressed for Tony if his condition meets the requirements of question three. Since it does, these questions are skipped, and Con's claim that the DDS will do a review to see if Tony can work a job is void.
As for the matter of the chances of Tony's claim not having much of a chance at being approved, notice that Con's source states: "For the 2011 fiscal year, the Tennessee DDS approved only 24.4% of disability claims at the initial application level, less than the national average." I assume that means all claims submitted, barring none. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
The fact is, this statistic includes all the claims, including the ones with no legal attorney involved in the process. The rate for approval is higher if one has an attorney. And Tony would not have to pay for his attorney since they are only paid if they win their client's claim. And then they are payed by the SSA.  So Tony's chances of acceptance are higher than average, since he has a legal professional fighting for him.
As for Con's claim that the SSD benefit is $62 less per year than what I quoted, please realize that Con's claim is based on a statistic from 2005. Since benefits are indexed to the cost of living , the benefit amount would have risen a fairly good deal since then. In fact, $62 is 6.2% of $1000. Given the fact the that we are talking about 11 years, I believe we can safely say that the rate of inflation over that time could easily be 0.6% a year, if not more. Therefore, my claim concerning that benefit amount stands.
For SSI, Con's statistics are again based on the year 2005. This is, again, outdated data. According to a page on the SSA's site titled: "SSI Federal Payment Amounts for 2016" , the "monthly maximum Federal amounts for 2016 are $733 for an eligible individual". Although this statistic is not specifically created for Tennessee, it is a description of the federal part of the program, and does not suggest in any fashion that the benefit amounts vary per state. Since this is $3, more than what I stated previously, I will stand by claim that Tony is eligible to receive $730/month.
As for Medicaid, I believe my opponent was a little confused. He cites his information to a page concerning Obamacare, and all the subsidies and cost assistance that comes with it. This is not what I meant by the Medicaid program at all. What I meant was the program in which you are signed up for a health insurance program where the costs are covered by the state completely.  This is the actual Medicaid program, similar to a universal health care program in which the state pays all the bills. True, Tony won't get any cash benefits from this program, but the amount of money he would save by not having to pay premiums for regular health insurance would easily come to $150/month, since he would otherwise have to pay out of pocket for premiums now that he had no employer to pay them for him. I stand by my previous figure of $150/month.
Con is right about Section 8 Housing. This is where things get complicated. However, after reviewing Con's cited source, I saw nothing in it mentioning "imputed welfare income". That of course doesn't mean that it doesn't exist, just that Con's cited source does not offer any evidence of it. Please, don't take my word for it, go to Con's source number 4 and check for yourself. I don't see anything, and I doubt you will either. All that source talks about is a family hardship minimum rent suspension, meaning a claim filed by the family using the public housing, to ask that the minimum rent payment be removed from their monthly bill, because they can no longer afford it. This doesn't even really apply to Tony's case, because this concerns a family already established in the program on the condition that they have enough money to pay the minimum rent. If Tony applied for the program, they would see he doesn't have enough income available from which to require a minimum rent payment, so he would never have reason to file a claim for exemption under hardship anyway. Thus, I claim my opponent has not submitted reliable or relevant information which would make my claim inaccurate, so I stand by my former claim made in the last round concerning Section 8 Housing.
I will close by saying that, thus far, Con has not been able to produce a viable argument for overthrowing my figures and claims, as I have been able to refute them. So, I hold all previous claims made to be true, and formally challenge Con to re-attempt to prove them false. Because as long as my claims are true, we can safely assume that Tony, and others like him, will be very satisfied with their decision to turn their backs on the world of work, and enjoy their hobbies and various personal activities for an extra 40 hours a week, all the while enjoying what amounts to an extra $6000 a year for less work, not more. I look forward with great anticipation to hearing my opponent's next argument!
Now for your closing, it is flawed to say that one could live off of welfare because the number is so close to equal for both. And Tony is making about half the national average, so there are very few people who would fall into the same economic situation as Tony. It is also inaccurate to say that you have refuted all my claims when you have only refuted a few and incorrectly at that.
Please note that Con offered no counter arguments on SSD and SSI. Because of this, I will assume that he concedes those points, unless he offers a counter argument for them in the next round.
As for Medicaid, I now understand that my opponent is saying that once because of Tony's low income ($27,000/year), Tony's saving from participation in the Medicaid program would not amount to $150/month, since he would already be collecting subsidies from the ACA (Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare).
In Tennessee, the state Medicaid program is called Tenncare. If our person in question receives SSI (which Tony does), they are more or less automatically eligible for Tenncare.  While it is true that the $150/month might not come from savings in premiums alone, it could certainly come from other areas, such as copays and deductibles. Remember, even with Obamacare, there are various copays and deductibles that can take a lot of money out of your pocket.
There was nothing on the Tenncare website about a deductible, as far as I could see. However, there were two different types of copays. The first is a pharmacy copay, where you pay $3 for each brand name drug and $1.50 for each generic drug.  The second type is any sort of copay other than pharmacy. However, adults on Tenncare Medicaid don't have to pay copays for other services.  That means that the most Tony should expect to pay out of pocket for any health care costs is $3! Surely, that will save him a lot of money compared to sky-high deductibles and copays with private insurance. True, if Tony is very healthy, he might not save $150/month, but he could easily save $100/month. So, I will gladly concede a $50/month difference on this particular benefit, if only for the sake of being conservative in my figured estimates.
Now for Section 8 Housing. You were right Con about your quoted source. The reason I didn't see that was because whenever I opened your link, it went to Question #46 instead of Question#10. You are correct though, Question #10 certainly outlines imputed welfare income. But I don't think it quite applies in Tony's case. To explain why, allow me to C&P Question#10 and the answer to it, and then offer a rebuttal:
"10. Question: What is imputed welfare income?"
Answer: As defined in 24 CFR 5.615, imputed welfare income is the amount of annual income that is not actually received by a family (as a result of a specified welfare benefit reduction), but is included in the family's annual income for purposes of determining rent. A specified welfare benefit reduction is defined as a reduction in the welfare benefit due to fraud or non-compliance with a welfare agency requirement to participate in an economic self-sufficiency program. Before imputed welfare income is included in a family's annual income, a PHA must have proper verification from the TANF agency."
Notice the part about: "Before imputed welfare income is included in a family's annual income, a PHA must have proper verification from the TANF agency." TANF stands for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. This is another welfare program, one that Tony does not qualify for because he has no dependents. So, how will a PHA receive "proper verification" from the TANF agency when they have not done "business" with Tony?
Also, please notice the first part of the quote: "As defined in 24 CFR 5.615, imputed welfare income is the amount of annual income that is not actually received by a family (as a result of a specified welfare benefit reduction), but is included in the family's annual income for purposes of determining rent." None of the programs in which Tony is enrolled contain "specified welfare benefit reductions". While that might be true for the TANF program, it does not apply in Tony's case. The only program which Tony is enrolled in that has any sort of Work Incentive policy is SSD, and Tony won't have to worry about activating this since he earns less than $8,000/year. Thus, while there is imputed welfare income to have to worry about, it would not applicable in Tony's personal situation. Also, I would like to point out that even though people on TANF might get less of a rent subsidy, the extra benefits received from this program would more than make up for the difference.
I will now reprint my opponent's last paragraph, and then offer a rebuttal to it:
"Now for your closing, it is flawed to say that one could live off of welfare because the number is so close to equal for both. And Tony is making about half the national average, so there are very few people who would fall into the same economic situation as Tony. It is also inaccurate to say that you have refuted all my claims when you have only refuted a few and incorrectly at that."
I'm afraid that my opponent's argument is quite flawed itself. Take the argument of the numbers being close, for example. Now if my figure is correct, Tony would earn $31,920 (the original figure of $32520, minus the $50/month conceded on the Medicaid point) from welfare, compared to his old working income of $24,003 ($27,000 minus $2997 in payroll and income taxes, with an effective tax rate of 11.10%). 24,003 is 75.2% of $31,920. That means that by quitting his job and going on welfare, Tony receives a raise of 24.8%, almost a quarter of his old income! That certainly isn't a close number!
Secondly, my opponent's claim that Tony's personal situation is uncommon, thus attempting to prove that most people would not fall into this economic category, is also flawed. The reason is because he said that national median wage roughly was double what Tony made. He did not provide a source to back up this information, however, I found a page on the SSA's website which provided the national average wage index for 2014. It seemed to back up Con's claim, as it set the average for wages at $46,481.52, which is only slight less than double Tony's wage.  However, Con does not take into account that the median wage in Tennessee is lower than the national average, as is the cost of living. In fact, in Tennessee, the cost of living index is: 89.7, the second-lowest in the nation.  Con also did not take into account that in most households there are a great number of dependents, so that even though most households would make more than Tony makes, they would need more to support themselves, and when they went on welfare, they would qualify for more programs with larger benefit amounts. Thus, although there is some difference between Tony's income and the national average income, once these factors are taken into consideration, the difference is reduced to quite a very small amount.
In conclusion, I will again state that I have successfully refuted my opponent's claims. If my opponent disagrees with this, then would he care to explain why he has not offered a counterargument in the last round for my points on SSD and SSI? And also, I would like to again see him refute my claims made in this round. If there is still a fault in my argument, I challenge my opponent to find it and expose it.
This ends my argument for Round Four. I look forward with great anticipation to my opponent's following argument!
Now for SSD, you have not addressed the fact that there is a small chance he gets approved for the SSD. Even though the argument could be made, these are reviewed by non professionals who have to decide if that is an actual disorder, and most people would find it is not an actual disorder.
To answer my opponent's first statement: "You have not provided a source so I would argue your claim that PHA will not get verification from TANF, I am sure there is a way to verify the amount that Tony is receiving."
Well, Con, I can provide you with the link to the TANF web page.  I agree with you that there certainly is a way "to verify the amount that Tony is receiving." But what I disagree on is that even though there is a way to verify this information, that the PHA will do it. I mean, after all, it's a simple matter of calling up the local SSA office and asking if Tony is on the payroll for SSD or SSI. But will the agency actually do it? Probably not. Why? Well, think about it. Within any agency, the workers are told what to do if such and such happens. A good example is the DVR. To go off topic a bit, when you go to the DVR, if you have the proper paper work, you can take the test and get your license. It doesn't matter if you sound like or dress like an immigrant, if you have the right paperwork, they let you take the test, because the workers at the DVR are following the bureaucratic process as it is laid out for them by the heads of the agency. If a matter comes up that is not part of that process, a different agency handles it. The same goes for HUD, PHA, TANF and SSA. If the PHA contacts TANF, and finds out that Tony has no records in their agency, they won't bother to check at the SSA because it isn't a part of their bureaucratic process. The only time that there might be a cross-examination of records is if Tony did something to arouse someone's suspicion (such as buying a fancy new car), and got the various agencies to communicate and discuss his particular case. But as long as he maintains a fairly low profile, Tony should remain out of the lime-light, so to speak.
But let's assume for a minute that my opponent is indeed correct about Section 8. Let's say that Tony does indeed have to pay 30% of his income in rent, and only gets a subsidy above that (I'm not conceding the point, mind you, only considering the effects of the possibility). Based on my figures, minus the rent subsidy, Tony's income would be $24,720, and 30% of that would be $7,416, or $618/month. So Tony's would only be about $32 per month, a trifle sum compared to my earlier estimates. So Tony's entire income would be $25,104 per year, plus the $2997 that he no longer owes in taxes, for a grand total of $28,101.
An interesting conclusion. Even assuming my opponent is correct on Section 8 Housing, Tony still makes more money each year on welfare than by working. Not a lot more, but more all the same, and without working for it to boot. But even with this taken into consideration, I still stand by my claim of $650/month in Section 8 benefits, because of the bureaucratic system, and the inner workings of the various departments.
As for Con's argument about his number of $24,000/year in benefits being more accurate, I fail to see where he has thus far proved it to be more accurate. I certainly have done a very good job in refuting his points, since he has dropped his arguments against the amount of SSD benefits, the amount of SSI benefits and the value of Medicaid benefits. In fact, with all due respect, he has clung to the argument of the Section 8 benefit amount as a last link to overthrowing my argument, even though if we assumed him to be correct, Tony would still be making more money off welfare than on by working.
Now for the average income in Tennessee. Please go to Con's provided link in the last argument, and compare the national average income to the Tennessee average income. While in Tennessee, the average is $44,361, the national average is $53,657. Do you realize that means that people in Tennessee make on average 27% less than people nationwide? When most people see that, they think: "I better not move to Tennessee. Who wants to make 27% less a year?"
What often isn't taken into account is that the cost of living in Tennessee is much cheaper than the national average as well. In fact, it's the second-cheapest state in the country, having only an 89.7 Cost of Living Index.  The fact is, these types of statistics often can be misleading. And that is precisely the problem with Con's average income statistic. Note for example that this statistic is per household. This includes homes where a husband and wife live together and often both work, thus boosting the statistic. It also includes houses with children, which would receive far larger benefit amounts and would qualify for many more welfare programs than a single, young man. Thus, this statistic is largely misleading and incorrect, since it does not apply to the demographics in this debate. If Con wishes to do a debate sometime on the subject of welfare as it applies to families with dependents, that would be excellent, as it is much easier to prove than for the demographics set forth in this debate. Indeed, the largest part of the reason that I set up the debate this way is because such a situation is much more difficult to prove.
Now for Con's last argument, the one concerning SSD eligibility. I certainly have addressed that Tony's condition is accepted under the SSA's list of Adult Impairments. I've also provided a link to a page that describes SSA's process for disability determination. It is all there in my Round Three argument. I've also pointed out that Tony can hire a lawyer to help him with his case, since a disability lawyer knows the ends and outs of the system, and can help improve Tony's chances for approval. The lawyer will be sure to work extra hard, as getting Tony's claim approved is the only hope he has for getting paid. Thus, although the statistic for immediate improvement is low, if Tony were to file an appeal, his chances of getting approved would be over 60%, which is better than half. And even if Tony doesn't get approved at all the first time, what's to stop him from starting over and going through the process again? After all, there's no rule against it. Thus, my opponent's argument on this point is rather weak.
This concludes my position for this debate. It has been quite enjoyable pointing out the various loopholes and flaws in our current welfare system. Although it is true that qualifying for welfare programs is certainly no cake-walk, once that task is completed, the rewards can be quite extensive. Imagine: 40 extra hours/week to take part in one's preferred activities, instead of working for a living. All at the expense of those still working, including your former co-workers, whom you never particularly liked. Is it really possible? If my position is correct (and I believe there has been very little evidence presented to reflect otherwise), then certainly? Is it worth the loss of one's personal dignity, and the personal satisfaction that comes from making one's own living? I'll let you be the judge of that.
Thank you once Con, for participating in this debate. I look forward to reading your final argument. Thank you also to the voters who will be voting on this debate.
For the number argument, I provided sources for all my points in round 2 while pro simply assumed various expenses and subsidies received while not providing a source for it. I will concede that my national income average is skewed because it includes families, but this also illustrates another point. That by living off of welfare you could only support yourself assuming you made 27k per year.
Now in his conclusion pro confirms that achieving each benefit is difficult. And pros whole argument is predicated on the fact that he receives every benefit. If he does not receive all of these benefits he falls below the 27k he is guaranteed by having his job. And that risk alone makes it not worth giving up his job. As for his obtaining a lawyer, if he does that, he will have to pay the lawyer out of the money obtained by SSD OF SSI. Which would just lower the income once again, and since pro agreed with the new calculations that the welfare income and working income are so close together, even having to pay a lawyer could result in that number falling below the amount he earned with his job.
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