Welfare Reform in the United States

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Welfare Reform in the United States
Americans are some of the most generous people in the world, even when they are not trying to be. From its first enactment into law in 1935, to its current state the U.S. Welfare system has assisted hundreds of thousands of people in need. From depression to recession the U.S. Welfare system has changed constantly its role in society providing assistance to the elderly, to dependent children, and to the unemployed. The funding for the welfare system derives from the payroll taxes of everyone, including those who depend on the welfare system. Even though some people need welfare, recipients should work because work reduces the outside dependency for assistance, and aids in lowering taxpayer cost. The true purpose of the welfare system is not to live for free, or to take advantage, but to help fellow citizens to stand back up when they have fallen down.

The purpose and funding of welfare in the United States
The purpose of the welfare system is to provide assistance to those who have little to no income. The United States system of welfare derived its beginnings from the Social Security Act of 1935. The Social Security Act was enacted and signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. According to National Center for Public Policy Research (2003), [to make more adequate provision for aged persons, blind persons, dependent and crippled children, maternal and child welfare] (The Social Security Act (Act of August 14, 1935), para. 1). The act also encompassed those in the category of disabled, blind, and crippled. The Social Security Act was amended in 1939 to include dependent and survivor benefits of veterans. In 1956 the Social Security Act was again amended to include the Social Security Disability Insurance program.

The Social Security Act was amended, maintained and funded by the federal government through the use of payroll taxes known as FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act) these funds were given to the states in the form of grants. According to U S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children & Families (2008), "[the net federal funds available and spent in Fiscal Year 2008 were $13,727,526,815.]” (Overview of Federal Funds Available and Spent in FY 2008 by Grant Year). The control and distribution of benefits were turned over to the individual states in August 1996. This act occurred when President Clinton signed into law (PRWORA) The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act. Each state distributes the funds received amongst a variety of different programs slated to give assistance to those in need.

Benefits and programs of the Welfare System
The welfare system provides many benefits to assist individuals and families in need. Some of the benefits according to The Finance Project (2009) "[…cash assistance, child support program, childcare, energy or utility assistance, food assistance, medical assistance, and vocational rehabilitation services.]” (Welfare Programs, para. 1). These are just a few of the program benefits the welfare system has to offer. Many of the cash programs that are available require that the head of household be working, or undergoing job training. The childcare and child support programs are available to those who are actively working or training for work. The benefit of these programs is the assistance in locating, and paying all or part of childcare needs, so the recipient can actively pursue employment. The energy and utility programs are available to those who cannot afford to pay for basic utility needs. This program is made available to those who fall within the required income levels. According to The Finance Project (2009), "[The welfare programs that provide food stamps, AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children), TANF, and other programs require the same qualifications …and are almost entirely dependent on recipient income]”...
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