When it comes to budget shortfalls, a lot of people have been pointing fingers here and there. One of the main points being pushed is that we are encouraging Americans to be lazy freeloaders; choosing to stay unemployed instead of finding work.

This pitch has been escalating now that the political competition is heating up and Republican candidates are rounding up as much support as they can get.

But who really eats up the largest slice of the federal “pie” of entitlement benefits?

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has put out a report1 showing that the 53% of entitlement benefits go to those aged 65 and up. The disabled non-elderly receive 20% while 18% of benefits go to members of working households – namely dependents. 7% is paid out in Medicare, unemployment insurance benefits, Social Security survivor benefits.

The remaining 2% is doled out in discretionary – aka NON-entitlement – programs.

This is a slap in the face to Republican presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, who warn that America is becoming a society of “entitlement” and “government dependency.” More than half of the benefits we pay for go to the elderly who worked their buns off in their time, while the rest goes to people who have been proven to have extraordinary need.

Those who don’t work don’t get freebies, and we help those who help themselves. That has always been the case, no matter how hard the aforementioned individuals spin the story around.

Data was taken from various records: Social Security, Social Security Insurance, Medicare, unemployment insurance, Medicaid, SNAP (aka food stamps), TANF, CHIP, EITF and the refundable component of Child Tax Credit. All this amounts to $1.8 trillion of the $2.1 trillion in benefit costs paid out by the government in 2010, with the remainder going to federal and veteran retirement benefits.


  1. You can read the full pdf report here on the CBPP’s website. []

Last updated: April 2, 2012 by & filed under Blog

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