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Poverty In America: Myths About Welfare Recipients

By: Nichole Jaworski
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(Photo by Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

(Photo by Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

(CBS Charlotte) — Throughout history, the United States government has implemented measures to assist people living in poverty.

For various reasons, people across the country apply for government assistance to help them get through financial hardship — especially during the loss of a job or a severe illness.

In 1935, the Social Security Act helped families survive the Great Depression, and a few of the programs developed under this Act are still in existence today.

People experiencing financial hardship can apply for housing assistance, healthcare, and monetary assistance.

While these government programs were designed to help those experiencing poverty, over the years there have been many falsehoods and inaccurate information that surrounds welfare and those seeking government assistance.

Myths About Welfare Recipients

5. People who receive welfare are lazy and do not want to work.

Fact: The majority of people who are on welfare are able-bodied and want to work, however they can not find stable employment. Still, many work irregular, low-wage jobs in between receiving welfare.

4. Welfare recipients “milk the system” and fraudulently obtain benefits.

Fact: “The Welfare Queen” was a term first used by President Reagan. Reagan talked about how a Chicago woman abused the system and had 80 different identities and was receiving around $150K in benefits each year. The image portrayed was that of a black woman. Here’s an interesting fact about “The Welfare Queen,” … there is no proof that she ever existed. It is believed that Reagan either falsified the entire story to gain support for his belief that welfare benefits should be reduced, or that there was some truth to the story, however Reagan drastically exaggerated the level of welfare abuse.

3. Most woman on welfare continue to have babies so that they can maximize the amount of benefits that they receive.

Fact: The average family on welfare has 2.8 children. Furthermore, only one out of every 10 mothers on welfare has more than 3 children.

2. A lot of welfare recipients are drug addicts and alcoholics and they stay poor as a result of their addictions.

Fact: Most often, poverty in itself is not caused by addiction, but rather an addiction is the result of falling into poverty. Furthermore, people of all socioeconomic backgrounds suffer from addictions.

1. Most of the people on welfare are African-Americans.

Fact: Think again! The margin between Caucasians and African-Americans who are on welfare is extremely narrow — 38.8 percent of Caucasians, and 39.8 percent of African-Americans are on welfare.

-Nichole Jaworski, CBS Charlotte

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