Need Eligibility vs Age Eligibility for Social Program Benefits - Essay Example

Published: 2021-08-11
805 words
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George Washington University
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Social security and Medicare have been contending issues in the United States politics for a very long time. Social security ought to be need-based as opposed to laying great emphasis on age. It is, therefore, crucial to understanding that social security programs were established to protect against reduced earnings potential and hardships of old age, sickness, disability and unemployment (Baker& Weisbrot, 1999). However, it has been argued that the policies have negative implications for the future generations since they have a significant focus on the elderly well-being and have not invested equally in other groups in the society. Social security programs should be actively engaged in supporting needy individuals in the society irrespective of their age, race and even origin. Measures should be put in place by the government to proactively evaluate the need basis of even elderly individuals to ensure that each gets the level of support that they deserve.

With the increasing number of social security beneficiaries each year the programs may be unsustainable in the long run due to demand for increased resources to maintain the large population. It is also unfair for the young who have substantial tax obligations towards these schemes since they may fail to enjoy similar benefits during their retirement periods because of massive deficits that may arise. It is, therefore, fundamental for reforming the social security policies to ensure that the concerns of both young and elderly are equally addressed. Majority of the citizens may support these policies because they assume that the social benefits received by an individual are concerning what they put in, while some of the beneficiaries gain more than what they saved up. Thus, this becomes a platform of free-riders who take advantage of hard-earned resources of the young working class (Peterson, 1996).

Critics of the social security policies have, on the other hand, claimed that the policies in place are focused on enriching the elderly at the expense of the young and thus impeding inter-generational equity. Huge budgets have been set to support the elderly while focusing less on programs concerning children and the youth. The call for promoting intergenerational equity concerning social security was reinforced in the mid-1980s by the American for Generational Equity which was dedicated to addressing the interests of the younger future generation. The increase in the poverty levels among the young people while the improving of living conditions for the elderly have also been regarded as one outcome of the biased social security policies (In Kunkel, 2014). Some critics have advocated for the cutting down of expenditure on social security to increase the national resources reserves for future generations. However, some of the causes of poverty among the young population cannot be attributed to improved social security benefits for the elderly but rather to the market forces for instance inflation, loss of jobs and expansion of jobs paying minimum wages (Minkler & Robertson, 1991).

Reducing the benefits may compel and encourage individuals to save more during their working years to avoid over-reliance on the social security programs in which huge funds are allocated. Many individuals are likely to have more pension savings if they know that their social security benefits will be reduced (Peterson, 1996). Another proposal for handling this issue is increasing the retirement age from 65. This is because the increased life expectancy has means that individuals enjoy social security benefits for longer periods. Some individuals at the set retirement age can carry out previous work duties. Collaborative programs between the public and private sectors to engage the elderly who are willing and able to work will go a long way in hindering undesirable effects of social security policies. This will make sure that the untapped human resource among the elderly is used in contributing productively towards national growth and development. It is instrumental to create a productive elderly population in our nation since it will ensure self-reliance and thus reducing the resources allocated towards elderly social benefits and channel them into other developments.

In conclusion, social benefits towards the elderly should not be wholly eliminated but instead revised to ensure that all important groups in the society, for instance, the youth and children are actively represented in social security programs. These policies are an integral part of the well-being of citizens however, politics has played an impeding role by various political actors and influential business people who aim at advancing their own interests (Minkler & Robertson, 1991).


Baker, D., & Weisbrot, M. (1999). Social security: The phony crisis. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

In Kunkel, S. (2014). Global aging: Comparative perspectives on aging and the life course. Springer Publishing Company.

Minkler, M., & Robertson, A. (1991). Generational Equity and Public Health Policy: A Critique of "Age/Race War" Thinking. Journal of Public Health Policy, 12(3), 324. doi:10.2307/3342845

Peterson, P. G. (1996, May). Will America Grow Up Before it Grows Old? The Atlantic Monthly, pp. 55-86.

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