There are a zillion statistics out there:

  • On average nationally a family of three eligible for SNAP receives $1400 a month or $16,800 per year before assistance. SNAP adds $310 a month.
  • In Rhode Island the effective income for a three person family on welfare is $554 per month in TANF plus SNAP (food stamps)
  • Food stamp benefits (SNAP) in Rhode Island are $302,852,007 for FY 2013. In Rhode Island this is  100,543 households or an average of $3012.16 per household.

But these are factoids. I am mostly interested in how many people receive payments and render nothing in return. To clarify the terms:

• An entitlement is something you have earned

• A benefit is something you get that you have not earned: it has been given to you out of the kindness of someone else’s heart (or through the force of Government)

These data show that:

• 41.2% of the national household population is receiving unearned payments.
• 10.7% of the population (a quarter of benefit recipients) are complete leeches.

So the next question is:

Other percentages apply :

% of household population Class
18.2% Elderly
9.8% Disabled, non-elderly
8.8% Working, non-elderly, non-disabled
4.4% non-elderly, non-disabled households without jobs

Social Security and Medicare are not included here since these are earned payments.
~~~~~ Derivation below ~~~~~
About 9 percent of all benefits go toward non-elderly, non-disabled households without jobs (and much of that involves health care and unemployment insurance).
Percentage of payments by household:
53% Elderly
20% Disabled, non-elderly
18% Working, non-elderly, non-disabled
9% non-elderly, non-disabled households without jobs

The next question is how many households do these comprise?
In 2011, about 49 percent of the population lived in a household where at least one member received a direct payment from the federal government.

The next question is, of these, how many households are not elderly or disabled?
So 27% of 49% or 13.23% of able bodied population of working age of which a third are freeloaders:
0.49*0.09 = 4.41% of the population are free loaders.

Next, look at the elderly number: What proportion of these are on Social Security, which they earned, so should not be counted as “welfare”?
Last year, about 29 percent of households received Medicare payments and 31.6 percent received Social Security. So round them in to one bunch at 30% who received payments they earned.
So now, 30% of the 53% is not a “benefit” but a true “entitlement”: something they earned. The net elderly benefit number is
0.7*0.53 = 37.1%
So the correct “benefit” (freebies) allocation is:

Percent Class
37.10% Elderly
20.00% Disabled, non-elderly
18.00% Working, non-elderly, non-disabled
9.00% non-elderly, non-disabled households without jobs

and the 49% becomes 0.841*0.49 = 41.2% of the household population receiving unearned payments among which the allocations are

Percent Class
44.11% Elderly
23.78% Disabled, non-elderly
21.40% Working, non-elderly, non-disabled
10.70% non-elderly, non-disabled households without jobs