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Why is Social Security labeled an entitlement program?I understand that entitlement is...

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sramseywatson | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 30, 2011 at 12:38 AM via web

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Why is Social Security labeled an entitlement program?

I understand that entitlement is a "right due to us in exchange for something else" but in terms of Social Security, "entitlement" has taken on a negative connotation similar to a welfare program.  I'm curious as to the history of the term, since employees and employers pay into the program.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 30, 2011 at 2:54 AM (Answer #1)

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Social security is an entitlement because it is not as if you pay in and only get back what you paid in.  Instead, you receive benefits based on a given formula.  You are entitled to that amount per month for as long as you live, regardless of whether you end up taking out more than you put in.

As to why it has a negative connotation today, I would argue that it certainly does not have a connotation as negative as that of welfare.  The reason for the negativity about entitlements is based on the fact that they are a major contributor to our national debt problem.  We have promised very high benefits to people at a time when our ability to pay for those benefits is going down.  I think that people have a negative view of these entitlements not because we think the recipients are unworthy, but because we know that the entitlements are not sustainable.

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted July 30, 2011 at 4:39 AM (Answer #2)

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The difference between social security and other entitlement programs, however, is that every legal citizen who has a legal job has paid into social security from his or her very first job.  If the government (LBJ, in fact) hadn't taken out money to fund other programs, there would be no drain on the economy, and our national debt problem would not be effected as a result of social security.  However, because they did withdraw money that should have been there drawing interest in order to provide retirees with the money they "invested, " the program is now in danger of going broke.

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