Pop Quiz: Who Gets the Benefit from Federal Entitlement Programs?
Sep 7th 2012 6:00PM
Updated Oct 15th 2012 9:27AM
Over the past few years, the benefits that America offers its citizens have become the center of a huge national debate as arguments about illegal immigration, budget cuts, and the rising cost of Medicare have resounded through the halls of Congress and the pages of America's newspapers. But who actually qualifies for benefits -- and how are they designed to work? In the process of investigating this issue, we compiled this little quiz. If you're interested in where your entitlement spending goes, take a peek.
1. Social Security began paying out benefits in 1937. What was the average life expectancy of a man that year?
When Social Security began, the average man died at 61 -- four years before he would have qualified for benefits. Today, the average man can expect to live to 75.7 -- meaning that he will draw Social Security benefits for over ten years.
2. Ida May Fuller of Ludlow, Vt. was the first SSI recipient. She paid $24.57 in Social Security taxes. How much did she receive
Fuller lived to be 100 years old, and collected $22,888.92 -- more than 1,015 times what she paid into the system!
3. How much money do illegal immigrants pay into the Social Security program annually?
C. $6 million
D. $6 billion
According to a 2006 analysis by Standard and Poor's, the Social Security Administration obtains a "suspense fund" of payroll taxes that cannot be attached to a legal social security number. It averages between $6 and $7 billion per year. The immigrants who pay these social security taxes are not allowed to receive benefits, which means that they will never be able to take the money back out of the system.
4. What are the dollar limits on Medicaid benefits for illegal immigrants?
A. $0 per year
B. $1,000 per year
C. $10,000 per year
D. $100,000 per year
Illegal immigrants do not qualify for Medicaid benefits. However, hospitals are legally required to give emergency care to any patient who needs it -- a loophole that provides many undocumented immigrants with their only source of medical care.
5. How many days of paid maternity leave are American women entitled to?
U.S. law does not require companies to give their employees paid maternity leave.
6. How many countries worldwide don't mandate paid maternity leave?
Recently, Harvard and McGill Universities surveyed 181 countries and found that only three -- the U.S., Papua New Guinea and Swaziland -- don't offer paid maternity leave.
7. How much money do you have to make before you no longer qualify for Medicaid?
A. $2,000 per year
B. $7,000 per year
C. $10,000 per year
D. It depends on where you live
Since each state administers its own Medicaid system, the cut off line varies greatly. In Massachusetts, individuals making up to 133% of the poverty line, or $14,856, qualify for the program. By comparison, Texas' cut off for an individual is 26% of the poverty line, or $2,904 per year.
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Bruce Watson is a senior features writer for DailyFinance. You can reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter at @bruce1971.