Sample Critical Thinking Paper on Elder Income Supports

Elder Income Support Problem

Growing old is an honor to the society; however, it presents a challenge to the government in terms of welfare since most of these people are unproductive to the economy. When members of the society attain the age of 65, they become elders that need assistance from the other members. In the United States, social security has helped low-income earners to live above poverty line. Out of the more than 60 million people benefiting from social security fund, more than 30 million are the elderly of the ages 65 and above. It seems that the number gradually increases each year, a sign of an increasing problem to the society. Projection indicates that the number of the elderly under the social security funds may rise to 70 million by the year 2039 (Albrecht, 2012). The American society has many elderly persons who need support. The increasing need for elder income support in the US is an indication of an economic and social problem that requires a remedy.

Elder income support is a social problem because it implies that the younger members of the society lack economic empowerment to care for the elderly. In a normal scenario, the children are responsible for the upkeep of the older parents. On the same note, lack of regular employment when citizens are younger may lead to lack of adequate premium towards the social security funds. Elders who fall under such categories will need income support when they attain the age of 65 and above. The support helps them live above the poverty level. The question for this problem should seek an answer of the many reasons for the need for elder income support. There would be no need for such support in a robust economy with a high employment rate. Decent jobs assure people of higher income and better premium contribution towards securing a better life after retirement age. Therefore, an economy with irregular employment pattern or higher unemployment rate is the reason for the increasing need for the elder income support.

Historical Ideologies (Individualism and Protestant Work Ethics)

American civilization came from adopting some of the protestant (puritan) ethics. Protestant work ethic came from the Western Civilization. Historically, the high and fast economic growth in the past has been because of some of the protestant principles. According to Mcknight & Triche (2011), the puritan ethics esteem literacy, self-reliance and personal effort towards growth of an individual. Historically, America became a leading country in the number of the middle class citizens and above. Individuals and the society adopted professionalism and education as a method towards securing a future. The strong work ethic helped people come out of poverty to build successful businesses. Knowledge and self-mastery played a role in establishing strong work ethic for the people. Earlier, the number of the elders on income support was less as compared to today’s scenario. From earlier in life, children were taught some of the principles that would shape their character in preparation for a stronger work ethic. In addition, it is worth noting that the protestant ethics promoted stronger family ties (Mcknight, & Triche, 2011). Divorce rates were low and couples lived together, working hard to secure their future. Research indicates that married couples are likely to have a stable economic status than the singles or divorced. In light of this, the rising elderly dependence on income support comes from the changing social and marital principles that encourage divorce and single parenting.

Individualism has created a society with individuals who seek after instant enjoyment rather than establishing a secure future (Albrecht, 2012). At present, most of the Americans do not follow the protestant ethics because individualism seems to be the best approach towards life. Some of the citizens still have strong sense of protestant work ethics; however, the majority opts for a system that promotes self-indulgence. Individualism promotes moral worth that seeks to please an individual, irrespective of the action by an individual. Education system no longer instills personal attributes and principles that promote social responsibility. People are simply rewarded for participating rather than taking part in the real competition (Weber, 2002). Lack of competition has made it difficult for the people to create progress and improvement.

According to Albrecht (2012), the current society stands on individual freedom that people misuse in order to promote laziness. Many people no longer esteem education as a tool that helps build character and hard work. Therefore, people fail to acquire stable jobs that can secure better retirement benefits. People hustle between various jobs in order to make ends meet, as others are part-timers in other sectors. Higher unemployment rate translates to the higher number of the elders under income support. When older members of the society attain the age of retirement, they become unable to take of their basic needs and have to rely on income support in order to survive. The current education system and work ethics fail to build a culture that promotes innovation and proper work ethics.

The younger generation that should care for the elderly seem overwhelmed by the responsibility. They are unable to work towards their own survival as well as provide for the elderly. As noted above, the high unemployment rate and lack of consistent jobs are compounded by the desire by the younger generation to enjoy themselves in absolute freedom. In the end, the elderly have no option but to get income support from the social security fund. According to the records, the number of elder dependents is on the increase. Therefore, an elder under the support program uses the funds to take care of the other children. The situation presents a social problem that requires multispectral approach. However, as noted above, individualism and lack of the protestant work ethics are the main cause for the rising number of the elderly who rely on income support.

Social Policies that Address Elderly Income Problems

Social Security scheme is the major source of funds for the support of the elderly in the US. In order to avoid elderly income problems in the future, the government demands that workers make mandatory contributions towards old-age pension. The premiums are calculated according to the amount that an individual earns. Upon attainment of the mandatory retirement age of 65, the beneficiary qualifies to start earning the pension. Old-age pension is an insurance policy that allows an individual to contribute towards old age. Therefore, the contributor is assured of monthly earnings after retirement. It is worth noting that the scheme also provides for the allowances towards supporting dependents of the insured. Social insurance system is the major policy that seeks to address the number of the elderly who need support. The scheme also allows people in self-employment to make premium contributions towards retirement.

Elderly income support is an alternative to the old-age pension scheme. It seeks to help elders who never had a regular income payment and never contributed towards the same. As noted above, the society has numerous challenges like unemployment. Some are unable to acquire jobs that can allow the make regular payments of the premium. Other older members of the society are disqualified from the pension fund because of irregular payment of the premiums. Elders with younger generation in the family may find it difficult because of lack of stable jobs. To such elderly persons, the government has the social security fund that supports their income. Elders who enlist get income support that helps them live above poverty line. The private industry provides a challenge for the government because half of the workers in this industry have never enlisted for a pension scheme. With such complacency or lack of knowledge, the elderly still need income support.

Social Policy Approach

The economy no longer grows at a faster rate like before. The number of the unemployed continues to increase despite numerous efforts by the government. Some members of the society, in the private sector, see no need to register and contribute for a private pension scheme. Therefore, the problem is bound to increase in the future. The social policy approach would be to ensure that all persons are encouraged to enlist on a pension scheme. The premiums should be flexible to cater for persons of all social classes. On the same note, it is obvious that the younger generation will find no time to care for the elderly. All workers should contribute towards a kitty that will boost the social security fund. Social justice requires that the less privileged get necessary support towards their upkeep. Education and sensitization on matters of old age should be taught to the younger generation for planning purposes.



Albrecht, J. M. (2012). Reconstructing Individualism: A Pragmatic Tradition from Emerson to Ellison.

Fordham University Press.

Mcknight, D., & Triche, S. (2011). Puritans Origins of Technological Understanding in USA From

William Ames Technologia to Technicism. University of Alabama. Journal of Curriculum Theorizing. Vol. 27, (3).

Weber, M. (2002). The Protestant Work Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Trans by Steven Kalberg. 3rd

Ed. Los Angeles California: Roxbury Publishing Company.