Alleviating Caretaking Costs

Occasionally, a caretaker will tell me that the cost of maintaining their own lives and subsidizing a parent(s) has become too much. When I ask if they have looked into social programs for the senior, I am often told there is no way the parent would consider “welfare”. This generally leads to a conversation about “those entitlement programs” of which the taxpayer is always weary. If you find yourself in this situation, consider this:
An entitlement is a Federal program that guarantees a certain level of benefit to persons or other entities who meet certain requirements set by law. Examples of current entitlement programs are – Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, most VA programs, Federal employee and Military retirement plans, active-duty medical insurance programs, most Native-American programs, unemployment compensation, and Agricultural Price Support programs such as SNAP, free/reduced lunches and commodities.
There are those who would argue that an entitlement program is not something you work for, it is something given to you by the taxpayer when you do not work. They would be wrong. If you carefully read the definition, you will see that nearly all programs require some kind of participation through work or finances. For instance Food Stamps or as it is now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) requires that if you do not have small children at home or are disabled, to receive the benefit you must work. The abstract of the act states that it was set in place in 1964 to strengthen the agricultural economy; to help to achieve a fuller and more effective use of food abundances; to provide for improved levels of nutrition among low-income households through a cooperative state-federal program of food assistance to be operated through normal channels of trade; and for other purposes.
Who does the SNAP program help? First, agriculture: the farmer. Second, food abundances: buying the too-large quantities of food the farmer grows. Third, low-income households: poor people. Fourth, normal channels of trade: grocery stores. There are large chain grocery stores throughout the US where 98% or more of their business is solely through SNAP.
So you see, unless you live off the grid, entitlement programs touch every American Citizen within its borders or military living abroad either by receiving benefits or taking in dollars. And most of us pay taxes so it is all interconnected. The only thing that an entitlement is not, in my opinion, is a right. While you have to right to apply for any program, you do not have a right to receive the benefits from the program; the benefits of the program are a privilege of living in a civilized society.
If your loved one has no shame in receiving Social Security or Medicare each month, they should feel no shame in applying for one of the other entitlement programs available to them. Other blog entries will detail what programs are available, how to apply, and what to expect.

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