Right-Wing Poverty Myths and Racial Stereotypes Debunked


MYTH 1: Nearly all the primary recipients of assistance through federal benefit programs are African-Americans.

Reality: 35.7 percent of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, recipients and 43 percent of those on Medicaid—two of the largest public benefit programs—are white.

MYTH 2: The main reason why people living in poverty is laziness.
Reality: Approximately 56 percent of those who did not work in 2010 did not work due to illness, disability, retirement, or an inability to find work.

MYTH 3: Entitlements are handouts.
Reality: 39 percent of Americans receive benefits they paid for through payroll taxes taken out of their own paychecks.

MYTH 4: More minorities live in poverty than any other group.
Reality: In 2010 31.6 million white Americans lived in poverty, more than any other racial or ethnic group.

MYTH 5: Minorities who receive Social Security benefits do so for survival because they are too lazy to work.
Reality: 45 percent of all black beneficiaries and 58 percent of “other” beneficiaries (those who are neither black nor white) use the program for its survivor and disability benefits, not for its retirement benefits.

MYTH 6: Most beneficiaries of low-income public benefit programs do so out of laziness.
Reality: Among American households receiving food assistance under SNAP, 75 percent have an elderly or disabled person or a child.