Half of Americans Get Government Benefits




WASHINGTON D.C. – Newly released data from the U.S. Census Bureau show that in the fourth quarter of 2011, nearly half of all Americans — 49.1 percent — received benefits from one or more government programs.

Out of a population then estimated to be 306.8 million, 151 million received benefits from at least one government agency.

More than 82 million people lived in a household in which one or more people received Medicaid benefits, and 46.4 million people got Medicare benefits.

Nearly 50 million people received Social Security payments, 49 million got food stamps, 20.2 million got Supplemental Security Income, 13.4 million lived in public or subsidized rental housing, 5 million received unemployment compensation, and 3.1 million got veterans’ compensation.

About 23.2 million people were in the Women, Infants, and Children program, and 5.8 million received benefits from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, according to the data released on Oct. 22.

Other funds paid out in the last three months of that year include those for Railroad Retirement benefits, workers’ compensation, and veterans’ educational assistance.

The figures for means-tested programs such as food stamps and Supplemental Security Income include anyone residing in a household in which one or more people received benefits from the program.

The Census Bureau also reported that out of 118.8 million U.S. households, 29.5 percent received Medicare benefits, 20 percent got Medicaid benefits, and 32 percent received Social Security or Railroad Retirement benefits.

Also, 15.4 million households, or 13 percent of the total, received food stamps.

When and if Obamacare is fully implemented next year, a new benefit program will begin — Americans earning up to 400 percent of the poverty level for their households will qualify for a federal subsidy to purchase health insurance.


  1. No fear-mongering, but consider this: If Social Security and Medicare are both broke and are billions of dollars in debt, how can that be if everyone taking from the system is only taking their own money back out?

  2. That’s slightly misleading. The 50 million people on social security paid into it during their working years and are drawing off of it, it’s more of a government managed retirement plan than a government benefit per se. They’re paying you with your own money from years ago (theoretically). And medicare is the same deal, 46.4 million get it because after 65 you basically *have* to. But again, you paid into it during your working years so what’s the big deal? It’s not a handout.

    The others, okay yeah a case can be made, but it’s really stretching things to claim that “almost half of America is on the government dole!” When in fact it’s substantially less than that by the time you factor out medicare and social security. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s still alarmingly high, but let’s aim for accuracy instead of fear-mongering. Rise above the fray and not play dirty with “facts”.

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