What are the main US government safety net programs? - Center for Research on Poverty and Inequality (2023)

Some of these programs are rights. Anyone can expect to receive an earned income tax credit if they qualify. Other programs, like the SNAP and WIC food assistance programs, only benefit those who apply before budgeted funds run out.

Here's a schedule and rundown of select US Safety Net shows.

1935: Social Security Act

The original law was part of President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal legislation and included state subsidies for unemployment benefits, dependent child support, and public health. Today, Social Security is the largest safety net program in the United States. In 2017, it will reach almost 62 million Americans with $955 billion in benefits.

For more information, seeSocial Security Administration online.

1935: Unemployment Insurance

Unemployment insurance was part of President Franklin Roosevelt's Social Security Act of 1935. Current US Department of Labor unemployment insurance (UI) programs provide benefits to skilled workers who become unemployed through no fault of their own. your will and meet certain requirements.

The program is a unique federal-state partnership based on federal law but administered by the individual states. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that SD benefits totaled $322,016 when the unemployment rate averaged 4.6%.

For more information on unemployment insurance, seeMinistry of Labor online.

1964: Head Start

This preschool education program was part of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, whose goal was to reduce inequities among young children. Amendments to the Head Start Act of 1994 introduced the Early Head Start program that extended early childhood development benefits to low-income families with children under the age of three.

In 2016, the program served 900,000 mostly low-income children per year, with total federal spending of more than $8.7 billion. Although the effectiveness of the program has been criticized by leading researchers,actual studiesdemonstrate the benefits of Head Start, particularly for children at the lower end of the ability spectrum.

For more information on Head Start, seeOffice of Head Start Online.

(Video) The Safety Net | Poverty and Economic Inequality

1964: Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

The first food stamp program ran from 1939 to 1943, but the program we know today was introduced with the Food Stamp Act of 1964. The program is now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and served 44.2 million people with $66.5 billion in benefits in 2016.

Studies co-authored with research partner Hilary Hoynes found that SNAP contributed to increased birth weights, but also that the benefit was associated with fewer hours worked.

More information about the program can be found atFood and Nutrition Service website for SNAP.

1965: Medicare/Medicaid

These health programs were introduced in 1965 with amendments to the Social Security Act. Today, Medicare offers health insurance to people age 65 and older, and some younger, but who have certain disabilities or medical conditions. Medicaid is a federal and state partnership that provides health insurance to low-income people.

In 2015, an average of about 55.3 million people enrolled in Medicare, receiving $615.6 billion in benefits. In fiscal year 2015, total Medcaid spending was $552.3 billion, of which federal Medicaid spending was $348 billion ($301 billion in covered insured benefits). States funded the additional $220 billion. In 2015, approximately 68.5 million people were enrolled in Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

For more information on Medicare and Medicaid, seeCenter for Medicare & Medicaid Services Online.

1972: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Program

SSI is a federal program that provides income to people age 65 and older and adults and children who are blind or disabled. The benefit amount in 2016 for SSI individuals was $733 and for couples it was $1,000.
At a cost of $58 billion, SSI was the second largest cash assistance program tested in 2016, behind the Earned Income Tax Credit.

For more information on SSI, seeSocial Security SSI Online Sites.

1972: Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)

WIC is a nutrition program that benefits pregnant women, new mothers, and young children who live in poverty and are at nutritional risk. WIC is not an entitlement program, so the number of people who receive benefits depends on the amount Congress allocates to the program year after year.

About 7.3 million people attended WIC in 2016, with food costs totaling $3.6 billion. TOfor studyAnn Huff Stevens, director of research at the Center for Poverty, associate director Marianne Page, and research associate Hilary Hoynes found that WIC results in a 10 percent increase in birth weight in babies born to participating mothers.

(Video) Work Requirements in the Safety Net and the Challenges of Implementation | Haskins & Schanzenbach

For more information on the WIC program, seeUSDA Online.

1972: Federal Pell Grant Program

Pell Grants help pay tuition and other expenses for low-income college students. In 2010, three-quarters of the recipients had a household income of $30,000 or less.

The amount of support depends on family income and training costs and also varies from year to year. The maximum grant amount for 2016-17 was $5,830. Federal spending on Pell Grants was approximately $26.6 billion in the 2016 school year, with approximately 7.1 million recipients.

With recent tuition increases, Pell Grants fund a smaller percentage of higher education. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the average Pell Grant pays a lower percentage of tuition today than it did in the 1980s.

For more information on Pell Grants, visitUS Department of Education Online.

1975: Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)

The EITC is a tax credit that benefits low-to-middle-income people, especially families. In 2015, the EITC reached 46.2 million taxpayers with a total cost of $58.8 billion. Because EITC benefits do not count as income for other government benefit programs, they do not disadvantage beneficiaries who are eligible for other assistance, such as: B. SNAP or Medicaid.

Research has shown that the impact of the EITC goes beyond lifting families out of poverty. TOfor studyby research center affiliates Hilary Hoynes and Douglas Miller found that it also increased birth weight and reduced low birth weight.

For more information about the EITC, seeIRS online.

1996: Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)

TANF gives grants to states for programs that provide temporary benefits to families with children when income does not meet the family's basic needs. Programs include career preparation, family planning and other benefits, and cash benefits.

The program replaced the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program established by the Social Security Act of 1935. In 1996, it was replaced by TANF as part of the Personal Responsibility and Employment Opportunity Act welfare reform , changing the face of the safety net in the United States. -Annual power limit.

(Video) State of the Union 2019: Poverty and the Safety Net - Christopher Wimer

Although the federal government funds some of the state's TANF programs, it leaves it up to the states to determine what those programs should look like. In 2015, the total cost of TANF at the federal level was approximately $16 billion, with an additional $15.3 billion coming from the states. This year, the program provided cash assistance to nearly 3 million people.

For more information on TANF, seeOnline Family Counseling Center.

1997: Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

CHIP provides health coverage to nearly 9 million children in families who cannot afford private health insurance but whose income is too high to qualify for Medicaid.

The Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 bolstered CHIP with additional funding and improvements, including tens of millions of dollars for a national awareness campaign, grants for Native American tribes, and to encourage enrollment and retention in CHIP and Medicaid.

In fiscal year 2016, more than 8.9 million children were enrolled in CHIP at a total cost of $15 billion in federal funds. Like Medicaid, CHIP is administered by states that receive appropriate funds from the federal government. In onefor study, Erin Hamilton, faculty member at the Center for Poverty Studies, and Ethan Evans, a graduate student, point out that statewide CHIP policies affect immigrant children's access to health care.

More information about CHIP can be found atMedicaid page for the online program.

2010: Affordable Care Act (ACA)

The ACA is the largest recent addition to the US safety net whose full impact remains to be seen. The law, introduced by President Obama in 2012, includes grants to finance individual health insurance. It also allows states to cover additional low-income families in Medicaid by providing appropriate federal funds. In September, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the total cost of all ACA health insurance for people under age 65 was $705 billion in 2017.

The Center for Poverty Research hosted a conference that brought together a unique mix of researchers, policy experts, and industry leaders to discuss what the new health law means for this country, as well as its potential impact on poverty. poverty in the country. Audio recordings of selected presentations and other health-related materials are included.available on our website.

For more information on key ACA resources, visit theUS Department of Health and Human Services Online.

updated on 03/15/18

(Video) Labor Markets and Poverty in the US: Basic Facts, Policy and Research Needs

Banthin, J., S. Masi. Congressional Budget Office. May 2013. "CBO's estimate of the net budgetary impact of the health insurance provisions of the Affordable Care Act has not changed significantly over time." <http://www.cbo.gov/publication/44176>. Consulted on 06/12/13.

Carrington, W. Congressional Budget Office. 2012. “Unemployment Insurance After the Recent Recession.” <http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/11-28-UnemploymentInsurance_0.pdf>. Consulted on 06/12/13.

Carrington, W., M. Dahl, and J. Falk. Congressional Budget Office. 2012. “Growth in Low-Income Family Tax Credit and Audited Resource Programs.” <http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/43934-Means-TestedPrograms.pdf>. Consulted on 06/12/13.

Congressional Budget Office. "Children's Health Insurance Program Enrollment and Expense Details for CBO May 2013 Baseline."<http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/44189-CHIP.pdf>. Consulted on 01/15/14.

Hearne, Jean., J. Topoleski. Congressional Budget Office. September 2013. "An Overview of the Medicaid Program." <http://www.cbo.gov/publication/44588>. Consulted on 06/12/13.

Page, S., MB Larner “Introduction to the AFDC Program.” The Future of Children. <http://www.princeton.edu/futureofchildren/publications/docs/07_01_01.pdf>. Consulted on 06/12/13.

Social Security Administration. "History of Social Security". <http://www.ssa.gov/history/>. Consulted on 12/02/13.

Social Security Administration. "Social Security Pamphlet". <http://www.ssa.gov/pressoffice/basicfact.htm>. Consulted on 05/12/13.

US Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. "History of the WIC Program." <http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/wic-program/background.aspx#.Up5F4MRDuSo>. Consulted on 12/02/13.

United States Department of Agriculture. "Participation and Costs of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program." December 2013. <http://www.fns.usda.gov/pd/SNAPsummary.htm>.

(Video) The Decentralization of the U.S. Safety Net: Webinar Recording

United States Social Security Administration. “Annual Statistical Supplement, 2012.” <http://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/supplement/2012/2b-2c.html#table2.b1>. Accessed 12/4/13.


1. Strategies To Address Poverty & Inequality
2. How the Social Safety Net Reduces Childhood Poverty
(Peterson Institute for International Economics)
3. Poverty and Politics: How Strong Is Safety Net for Poor Americans?
(PBS NewsHour)
4. Immigrants, Poverty and Welfare: How Do They Fare, and How Do They Affect Natives?
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5. module6_2 Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
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6. Combating Inequality Conference: Social Safety Net
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