Yes. I know…this is a term that can get some people really fired up. I can understand why. After all, the term entitlement has taken on a demeaning definition that insinuates getting something that you haven’t earned or maybe even deserve.
Here’s the truth…the federal government has referred to Social Security as an entitlement program for several decades. On their website you can hundreds of uses of the word. In fact, they go so far as to explicitly state “The social security benefit programs are entitlement programs.”
So why do they refer to it this way and does it have a negative connotation?
If you examine the definition of the word entitlement, you’ll see there is no mention of welfare, charity or handouts.
The Merriam Webster dictionary defines it as: “A government program providing benefits to members of a specified group.”
The Cambridge dictionary defines it as “something, often a benefit from the government, that you have the right to have.”
In then in the glossary of the United States Senate the word entitlement is defined as, “a federal program or provision of law that requires payments to any person or unit that meets the eligibility criteria.”
The fact is, the phrase “entitlement program” is simply a term for any government program guaranteeing certain benefits to a segment of the population who qualify for them under specific terms and conditions.
That’s exactly what Social Security is. You have to work for at least 10 years with a certain amount of earnings to be ENTITLED to your own benefit.
But in the highly politicized world that we live in, what words actually mean and the meaning given to words aren’t always the same.