Definitions for "Entitlement programs"
Entitlement programs are programs where Congress authorizes spending by determining particular eligibility criteria rather than a particular amount of spending.
Developed especially during the Great Society of the 1960s, these are benefits to which the recipient is entitled by right if certain criteria are met. Part of the "uncontrollable" part of the budget, most are in the welfare policy area. Their increases are said to be responsible for the increases in federal expenditures.
Programs like Medicare/Medicaid, Social Security, and veterans' benefits are known as entitlement programs. Each person eligible for benefits receives them unless Congress changes the eligibility criteria. Funding levels are set by the number of eligible recipients, and not at the discretion of Congress. Entitlement payments represent the largest portion of the federal budget.