Welfare refers to the provision of a little amount of social support and wellbeing for all citizens. It is provided by governments, intergovernmental organizations, charities, religious groups, and informal social groups. Welfare providers give voluntary assistance to people who lack the ability to sustain themselves due to old age, lack of employment or disabilities. In the United States, the provision of welfare was introduced in the 1930’s, during the period of the Great Depression. The welfare system was established due to the large number of people who needed help. During this period, neither private charities nor the States had the financial resources required to sustain the needs of the American citizens. Therefore, a federally funded welfare system was introduced to give aid to these individuals and their families. In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act, and it became law. It established two social insurance programs to help reduce the risks of unemployment and old age.
After its inception in the 1930’s, the welfare system was controlled by the federal government for sixty-one years. During this period, many citizens were not pleased with the welfare system. They issued complains claiming that individuals abused the welfare system. Major changes have occurred since the Social Security Act was introduced in 1935. In the year 1956, the disability insurance was added. In the 1960’s, the Great Society legislation was passed. This legislation removed the age requirement for the disabled worker benefits. After this legislation was passed, people who were neither disabled nor elderly started receiving benefits from the United States government (Gensler 9).
In the year 1965, the Medicare program was established. This program provided all the medical needs for people aged 65 years and above, irrespective of what they have earned. In the same year, the Medicaid program was established. This program provided assistance for the unemployed and the low income earners. In the year 1996, the Personal Responsibility and Reconciliation Act was passed and became a law. This act gave the state a control over the welfare. The Act required the state to meet certain criteria and ensure that individuals were encouraged to work for themselves rather than depend on welfare. This Act introduced the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, which required individuals to provide evidence of a job search, in exchange for welfare funds. It also introduced a limit of five years during which an individual would receive welfare funds from the state. In the year 2006, congress passed legislation that obliged the states to place more beneficiaries of the welfare programs into work programs (Martin 14).
Advantages of welfare
In the United States, welfare is given in different forms. It includes programs such as Medicaid, food stamps, rental assistance, and temporary assistance to the needy families. Welfare resources yield significant benefits to the American citizens. Welfare programs benefits children born in families with low incomes. The Constitution states that all American citizens have a right to basic needs. The children in poor families experience financial problems caused by their parent’s lack of income. This consequently leads to a lack of basic needs in such homes. The children in such households have no impact on the financial situations of their families. Therefore, welfare resources help in saving the situations for these children. It provides the basic needs for them and prevents punishing kids for the actions of their parents (Funiciello 11).
The welfare system also provides essential medical care. The welfare systems provide medical care to those people who cannot access the health insurance provided by employers. The welfare system also provides health care for people living with disabilities. This system helps these people to connect with resources that allow them to acquire the care and treatment required. The provision of health care, through the welfare systems, enables disabled people to live more independent lives. The welfare system also provides health care for the mentally unstable people. This group of people requires medication to prevent them from inflicting pain on themselves or other people. When provided with free health care, the system prevents them from becoming a danger to society (Gensler 8).
The welfare system also reduces crimes committed by the poor. All human beings have a natural instinct for survival. Most people revert to crime when they cannot acquire the basic needs of shelter, clothing, and food legitimately. They carry out illegal practices to acquire their basic needs, leading to an increase of crime among the poor. When such people do not have the basic needs, they also turn to drugs, in an attempt to run away from reality. This then increases the social problems as people become dependent on drugs. The drug addicts also commit crimes freely, adding to the social disorder. The welfare system prevents these situations when it provides the basic needs for the poor people in the society. Therefore, it brings social order and reduces the prevalence of crime among the poor people (Funiciello 12).
The welfare systems were introduced to benefit the low-income earners, the poor, people living with disabilities, and the aged. However, some people in the society take an unfair advantage of the welfare system (Funiciello 13). They benefit from the welfare resources although they do not qualify for it. This act, where an unqualified individual accepts and receives government assistance, is called welfare fraud. Welfare fraud causes the government to incur unnecessary losses when individuals collect welfare resources unlawfully (Wolf 6).
Welfare fraud occurs in many different forms. In America, some individuals, who receive welfare resources, do so by withholding important information from the government. One of the prerequisites for obtaining welfare resources is that one should be a low income earner or unemployed. The unemployed and the poor people who live below the poverty line automatically qualify for the welfare resources. However, some employed citizens do not report their incomes to the government. Therefore, these individuals end up being categorised as poor, and they qualify for the welfare resources. The other category of people is made up of those people who have more than one job. Some citizens are employed in areas where they receive low wages that allow them to qualify for the welfare resources. However, those who have other income generating businesses, besides their mainstream jobs, fail to report the extra income to the government (Gayheart 17)
Some citizens also engage in welfare fraud by incorrectly reporting the value of their assets such as vehicles and houses. Such individuals falsify the value of their assets so that they end up qualifying for the welfare benefits. Some citizens also engage in welfare fraud when they give false details about their children going to school. They name schools which receive government assistance so that their kids can benefit from the same programs.
Some families do not report the presence of adults in their homes. Such individuals report their families as being consisting of a single parent and having low incomes. This enables them to qualify for the welfare resources. In some families, they give false reports about the number of children they have. They inflate the size of their family so as to appear poorer than their actual poverty status. In some cases, parents have collected day care subsidies for children who do not attend day care. All these activities result in the misuse of money paid by other citizens in the form of taxes. Welfare fraud also denies people who qualify for help a chance to benefit from the welfare resources (Haerens 11).
The welfare system was established to improve the lives of the poor, disabled, and the aged. When the system is implemented effectively, it produces numerous benefits including bringing social order, reducing crimes, and providing basic needs for children. However, with all the noble intentions and powerful vision of the welfare sector, some citizens reap unjust benefits from it. Therefore, the government should introduce different systems to reduce the growing incidences of fraud. It should ensure that the people who gain unjust benefits from the welfare sector are flashed out. The government should find measures of investigating those people who are involved in a welfare fraud. Regular welfare audits should be carried out by the state officials to ensure that all applications for welfare resources are legitimate. These audits should involve physical visits to the applicant’s houses to verify the details filled in by the applicants. Audits should also be conducted to ensure that all the welfare resources given to individuals are not put to improper uses. The money should not be used for leisure or extravagant purchases, but for providing the essential needs of the beneficiaries (Gayheart 13).
When the state introduces such measures, the incidences of welfare fraud will reduce. The tax payer’s money given to the welfare beneficiaries will also be put to proper use. The government will also save money by ensuring that people who do not require assistance are overlooked in the welfare system. The government will also be able to help a large population of people who deserve assistance for legitimate reasons.