Social policy research examining citizens’ welfare knowledge, which offers a gateway to their understanding of the policy context, has remained limited. Adapting the opportunity–motivation–ability framework borrowed from the literature on political knowledge to welfare knowledge, this article offers an analysis of new data from a nationwide survey to explore Turkish society’s knowledge of the composition of public social spending. Corroborating earlier findings in the literature, the article maintains that most people in Turkey overestimate the relative size of social assistance spending for the poor. However, different from previous findings, the majority and most pensioners are also ill-informed about the rank of public spending on old-age pensions, the most widely used social benefit absorbing the largest share of welfare spending. The article provides evidence of the social division of welfare knowledge in Turkish society based mostly on three opportunity-related variables: city of residence, gender and income.