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A woman looks over her bills. | Photo credit: PBS NewsHour

Complex Benefits System Lets Many Fall Through America's Safety Net

March 27, 2024

Complex Benefits System Lets Many Fall Through America's Safety Net

Ask students: Who is facing challenges in getting and keeping their entitled benefits? What is the main issue discussed in the news segment regarding access to entitlements and benefits?

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Amid many of the debates around entitlements and benefits, one thing is often lost to the public: Many people who qualify for help struggle to get and keep their benefits because it can be difficult to navigate the system. Economics correspondent Paul Solman looks at the challenge as part of our special series, America’s Safety Net.

View the transcript of the story.

Key term

entitlements — a government provided benefit or service provided to qualified citizens. In the U.S. some examples of entitlement programs are social security (a benefit workers pay into that provides retirement or disability income) and Medicaid (health benefits for people below an income threshold).

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Discussion Questions

  1. Who is facing challenges in getting and keeping their entitled benefits?
  2. What is the main issue discussed in the news segment regarding access to entitlements and benefits?
  3. Where does Laurie-Ann Millis say she is holding off on visiting?
  4. When did Morgan Wingate give up on in-person appointments required for maintaining her WIC benefits?
  5. How does the app created by Propel assist users in accessing their benefit card information?

Focus Questions

What systemic issues contribute to the challenges faced by individuals in obtaining and maintaining entitled benefits? What do you think the federal government could do to make these benefits more accessible?

Media literacy: How can you find out more about the system of entitlements in the U.S.?

Extension Activity

Watch the Student Reporting Labs video and answer the following question: What is one new skill that you can start practicing?

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Republished with permission from PBS NewsHour Classroom.

PBS NewsHour Classroom

PBS NewsHour Classroom helps teachers and students identify the who, what, where and why-it-matters of the major national and international news stories.

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