An entitlement is a provision made in accordance with a legal framework of a society. Typically, entitlements are based on concepts of principle ("rights") which are themselves based in concepts of social equality or enfranchisement. Entitlement can also be informally to do with expected social conventions and social norms.
US government programs
In the United States, an entitlement program is a type of "government program that provides individuals with personal financial benefits (or sometimes special government-provided goods or services) to which an indefinite (but usually rather large) number of potential beneficiaries have a legal right [...] whenever they meet eligibility conditions that are specified by the standing law that authorizes the program." Entitlement spending is distinct from discretionary spending. Congress does not pass an annual appropriation; instead, expenditure on the program automatically increases or decreases with the number of claims against eligibility criteria. The government must provide the benefits even if it is insolvent, has reached the debt ceiling, or has not passed a budget.
Originally, the term "entitlement" in the United States was used to identify federal programs that, like Social Security and Medicare, got the name because workers became "entitled" to their benefits by paying into the system. In recent years the meaning has been used to refer also to benefits, like those of the food stamps program, which people become eligible to receive without paying into a system. Some federal programs are also considered entitlements even though the subscriber's "paying into the system" occurs via a means other than monetary, as in the case of those programs providing for veterans' benefits, where the individual becomes eligible via service in the U.S. military.
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- Entitlement Programs. City College of San Francisco. Retrieved 16 April 2013.[dead link]
- Twenge, Jean M.; Campbell, W., Keith The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement (2009)
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