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means testan examination of the personal and financial circumstances of an individual to assess his or her eligibility for benefits under a country's system of SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS. The benefits that are being claimed are not regarded as a universal right but are assessed under rules and regulations as laid down by legislation and the government department concerned. The payment of the welfare benefit is a right only if an individual is within the limits of income, personal circumstance, etc., for the period of the claim. Many poverty-action groups argue for the abolition of means-tested benefits because of the indignities that an examination of circumstances imposes and because they discourage proud but needy individuals from applying. Others argue for their retention as a means of limiting TRANSFER PAYMENTS and curbing GOVERNMENT EXPENDITURE.
Collins Dictionary of Economics, 4th ed. © C. Pass, B. Lowes, L. Davies 2005