Freeloaders or Downtrodden?


According to a Pew Research Center report based on a survey of 2,500 adults, 55% of Americans have received at least one of the following benefits during their lifetimes:

  • Unemployment benefits
  • Social Security
  • Medicare
  • food stamps
  • Medicaid and
  • Welfare.

These are the six largest government safety net programs.  However, when factoring in veterans’ benefits and federal college loans and grants as well:

  • The number rises to 70% of Americans receiving government aid.

Unemployment benefits are the most popular assistance program, with about 27% of Americans having received unemployment assistance at some point in their lifetimes, and Social Security is a close second, at 26% of Americans.

Participation in government entitlement programs has varied across incomes:

  • 70% of adults earning $30,000 a year or less said they had benefited from government aid at some point.
  • 39% of adults making at least $100,000 a year have received some form of aid.