Discussion 1: Social Security and Social Welfare Programs
For years, many working individuals in the United States have counted on Social Security as their primary retirement income. With the deductions from every paycheck to fund this future benefit, Americans looked forward to a comfortable retirement based on the assumption that these funds were being invested wisely. Is this a factual assumption, or is it another myth of the U.S. social welfare system?
Relying on Social Security as a sole means of support in retirement is uncommon. As society’s work habits and life expectancies change, Social Security has come to mean different things to different people. For those who are unable to save and/or invest on their own, it functions like a forced retirement program that provides a financial safety net for the future. For those who become unable to work, social security often is viewed by others as a public assistance program. For others who are financially secure and prepared for retirement, it is an entitlement program where individuals draw Social Security at retirement in an effort to recoup what they paid into the program by deductions from their wages. How might these perceptions of Social Security relate to the perceptions of public assistance programs that were discussed in last week’s resources?
For this Discussion, review this week’s resources. Then, consider how Social Security is different from public assistance programs. Finally, think about how these differences are important in terms of the general perception of Social Security benefits.