Percentage of Americans on welfare hits record levels
According to HHS, 23.1% of Americans are currently receiving benefits from one of three major welfare programs; Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (formerly Aid to Families With Dependent Children), Supplemental Security Income, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (or food stamps). That number is from 2011, the latest date from which data has been compiled.
By this measure, according to the report, 23.1 percent of Americans were recipients of welfare in 2011. Since 1993, the earliest year covered by the report, that is the highest percentage of Americans reported to be receiving welfare.
A startling 38 percent of all children 5 and under in the United States were welfare recipients in 2011, according to the report.
HHS’s count of “welfare” recipients differs somewhat from data published by the Census Bureau on the number of Americans living in households in which someone received benefits from one or more “means-tested” government programs. The Census Bureau data, previously reported by CNSNews.com, includes beneficiaries of public housing programs, Medicaid, "other cash assistance" programs, and the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program as well as beneficiaries of TANF, SSI and SNAP.
As of the fourth quarter of 2011 there were 108,592,000 people living in households in the United States that received benefits from one or more “means-tested” government programs, according to the Census Bureau’s estimate. Those 108,592,000 “means-tested” government benefit recipients, according to the bureau, equaled 35.4 percent of 306,804,000 people in the United States at that time.
When recipients of non-means-tested government programs (such as Social Security, Medicare, unemployment, and veterans benefits) were added to those receiving benefits from means-tested programs, the total number receiving benefits in the fourth quarter of 2011 was 151,014,000, according to the Census Bureau. That equaled 49.2 percent of the total population.
It should be pointed out that those three programs making up the HHS welfare recipient claims began as programs for the poor and, over the years, have become programs for the middle class as well. The Census bureau include programs where almost everyone is eligible, so the HHS number is probably more accurate as far as "true" welfare recipients.
The number of Americans receiving welfare has been rising since 2001:
The recession can be blamed for a lot of the increase, but beyond that, we are expanding the definition of "poor" and "needy" to include individuals and families previously ineligible. Common sense tells you that such inducements do not foster independence. But many seem perfectly willing to give up that independence for security.