The Instigator
Pro (for)
3 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Can anyone successfully live off of only welfare programs?

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Post Voting Period
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after 1 vote the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/7/2016 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,630 times Debate No: 90769
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (20)
Votes (1)




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. I have made the settings so that it is impossible to accept the challenge without first changing the settings. Anyone interested in accepting the debate challenge must either state so in the comments section or message me. I am looking for an opponent who is a serious debater and not merely a "tire kicker". The quality of your profile page will be the leading decision for whether or not I accept you as an opponent. Anyone who somehow manages to accept the debate without my consent immediately forfeits the rights to any debate points awarded by the voters. I hope for an educational and high-quality debate!


Alright, so at 27k a year, and 11.10% income tax, with tax this person would earn 24,003$ a year, or 2,000.25$ a month, while the average amount played to an individual person is 300$ per month, this means that he cannot live off welfare given the circumstances and standards provided above.
Debate Round No. 1


First of all, I would like to welcome my opponent to the debate. Remember voters, anyone who forfeits a round loses the debate automatically. I also would like to thank DDO for hosting the debate.

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.

SSD: $12000/year
SSI: $8760/year
Medicaid: $1800/year
LIHEAP: $480/year
SNAP: $240/year
TEFAP: $1200/year
Lifeline: $240/year
Section 8 Housing: $7800

Total: $32520

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.



SSD isn't a thing, SSI is for the disabled and if Tony worked a job previously, this means that he cannot be disabled, thu wouldn't apply for SSI, medicad is for healthcare, so Tony would only get 19,980, as opposd to 27,000.
Debate Round No. 2


SSD stands for Social Security Disability, which certainly is a thing. Go to link numbers one and two below and you can read all about it.

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.



But in investigation, SSI and SSD would see that his boss fired him for daydreaming, thus they would know he is not disabled, and, your numbers don't add up:
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$.
Debate Round No. 3


Con, please read specific number three, as written in Round One, again: "We will assume 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 wasn't fired. He quit of his own accord. If SSD and SSI did contact his former employer, all he would be able to say is that Tony quit after receiving a warning to stop daydreaming and bragging. What is wrong with that? Tony doesn't dispute that. In fact, that's exactly what Tony wants. He wants as many people as possible verifying his claims that he shows all the symptoms of an affective disorder. He'll readily admit that he quit his job after receiving the warning. Why? Because his disability is negatively effecting his job, and the quality of his work is suffering because of it. Such a matter provides no evidence contrary to the possibility of Tony being disabled.

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!


But if Tony had this disorder, he wouldn't have gotten hired inn the first place, so unless he can prove tat it was given to him, he cannot receive benefits, also, you're right, so Tony would get 9,960$ a year, still not 24,000$.
Debate Round No. 4


Con, according to the demographic description in Round One, Tony worked in the furniture factory for three years before he quit. But that doesn't mean that he doesn't have a disorder. He could very well have developed this disorder within the last month, or within the last two months of work. Remember, his boss only gave him a warning, he didn't fire him. Thus, up until now for the past three years Tony's work must have been good, or at least acceptable. If it had been bad since the beginning, why would his employer have kept him on for three years?

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.


Yes you do make a good point, it's so sad we live in a welfare state, thus, we should all move to Switzerland.
Debate Round No. 5
20 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by katwoman012 4 years ago
I find this debate Completely flawed right from Pros starting points. In No state can one receive 12,000 in Ssd benefits and qualify for an additional Ssi of 700+ per month. SSI is a means based program. With any resources in. Excess of 2,000 , he is over the eligibily limit. And if youre elig for a 450/mo Ssd disability benefit, based on a limited employment record, he would be elig only for the difference between the SSI MAX of appr 735/mo less the 450 Ssd, or 285/mo ssi bebefits. You dont get both full benefits, sir. If you are work li ited and get Si, plus small wages, they count those wages as income, reduci g the ssi -- remember Ssi stands for SUPPLEMENTAL security income.
Posted by whiteflame 4 years ago
>Reported vote: DonutQueen// Mod action: Removed<

5 points to Pro (Arguments, Sources). Reasons for voting decision: I began reading this debate beliving that one could not lead a life off of welfair programs. Between facts and evidence pro has countered all attacks made by con. It is for these reasons pro has indeed convinced me that one can live happily off of walfair.

[*Reason for removal*] This is not an RFD. The voter merely restates the decision emphatically, not providing any reasons why Pro's argument was more convincing or why their sources were more reliable.
Posted by Kescarte_DeJudica 4 years ago

SSD and SSI is not the same thing. They're both two different programs. Don't take my word for it, go to the Social Security Administration's website, where it clearly says that they are different programs. Here's the link:
Posted by harrytruman 4 years ago
Well it isn't a cake walk for them yes, but there are some people who mooch on welfare while that money is supposed to go to people who have kids and can't support them. Though the liberals solution to that is "kill them before they're born," but that won't work for these people since these people have this thingy called "a con chase."
Posted by Emmarie 4 years ago
SSD and SSI are the same thing, con is correct. I know people who receive some of these benefits and it isn't a cake walk like Pro makes it seem. Not every vicinity has a food bank, and the food from food banks is only to supplement your pantry, items are too random to plan meals. Most people who donate to food pantries give vegetables that have 0% nutritional value. Total benefits for SSDI is about $10,000/yr. Tony would find more peace of mind finding a less stressful job that pays less and getting a roomate, than dealing with the amount of paperwork and appointments he'd need to continue receiving benefits. There are LONG waiting lists to get rent assistance.

If someone on SSDI CAN live off $10k/yr. than why not just get a job making that amount with less stress than a job making $27k/yr? That's what I do, and I receive no Government assistance at the present time, and I'm happy making do with less and having time to pursue things I enjoy. My lifestyle actually pisses many people off as much as those who are on welfare though, because I'm so slick with the money that I do make, that I don't look poor and I have a reasonably nice home. I do drive an 87 rusty chevy truck though, but it has a 350, runs good and I like my truck.

There is always a way to cut spending, I'M A TRUE CONSERVATIVE, with how I can stretch dollars. I'll tell you what I don't spend $ on. Electronics, cable, clothing (I've been the same size for 30 years, and I design and make my own clothing) beauty products (soap, shampoo, toothpaste, and I use avocado oil on my skin for moisturizer, mixed with water, I don't use conditioner, or hair products, my current eyeliner and burt's bees lip tint has lasted 4 years, cuz I rarely wear eye makeup, but like once a month I do up my eyes and wear lip tint.)
Posted by Ragnar 4 years ago
S&G: Not enough to cost the point, but there were small mistakes like "played" instead of paid, and "Obcourse, goveronment." These caused no difficulty in following the argument (limited as it was), thus do not qualify for penalty.
Argument: In summary from pro "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."
Sources: I could not tell precisely what was taken from the sources, so I cannot award this. Nor does Con's failure to use sources qualify for penalty.

Pro did a good setup, which included all the assumptions he'd be working with, and never fell back on semantics of what "successful" meant. His setup gives a combined cost of $1200 per month. Before even attempting to dismiss con's $300 monthly welfare payment estimate, pro asserted that "the average disability payment ranges from between $1000 and $1200 a month" then explained how the guy could malinger his way into it. Con's rebuttal was an assertion that "[Social Security Disability] isn't a thing," without backing, when pro had a link for Disability Evaluation Under Social Security.

"SI and SSD would see that his boss fired him for daydreaming, thus they would know he is not disabled" this did not sufficiently challenge what pro had already proven (with backing of a source), given that him basically being lazy is technically a disability as per their system, or as pro put it in his defense "his disability is negatively effecting his job, and the quality of his work is suffering because of it." Con then desperately claimed "But if Tony had this disorder, he wouldn't have gotten hired inn the first place." I don't think con actually understood the basic argument pro was making.
Posted by whiteflame 4 years ago
>Reported vote: princearchitect// Mod action: Removed<

7 points to Pro. Reasons for voting decision: RFV conduct to Pro because Con basically conceded his 5th round argument agreeing with Pro final rebuttal. S&G goes to Pro because Con put about ten money signs behind the numbers. Sources goes to Pro because Con didn't use any sources in any round. Winner Pro!

[*Reason for removal*] (1) Arguments are insufficiently explained. Con states in his final round "You do make a good point," and while I can see how that can be perceived as a concession of the argument made by Pro in R5, it is not a concession of the debate as a whole. The voter still has to assess individual arguments made by both sides. (2) Conduct is insufficiently explained. A concession of an argument is not clearly a conduct violation. (3) S&G is insufficiently explained. This point can only be awarded if one side's arguments are difficult to read. The location of money symbols versus numbers isn't clearly harming the voter's ability to read the debate. (4) Sources are insufficiently explained. The voter has to do more than solely assess the amount of sources given by each side, and must also establish their reliability to the debate as a whole.
Posted by Ragnar 4 years ago
I don't think anyone would argue otherwise. How that links to bad conduct on any way, is what I am curious as to the thought process of.
Posted by Kescarte_DeJudica 4 years ago

I cannot personally speak for princearchitect, but I suspect that he awarded conduct based on the admission of concession because conceding to your opponent's argument is usually seen as admitting defeat.
Posted by Ragnar 4 years ago
Do you see the difference between that, and declaring "Clean sweep Pro!" Admittedly I haven't a clue why you consider it horrible conduct that someone admits defeat, but at least now you show that you read the debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Ragnar 4 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.

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