Final Synthesis Report of Findings from ASPE "Leavers" Grants. Food Stamp Participation

11/27/2001

Food stamp benefits can provide a significant amount of resources to a low-income family. Families with incomes below 130 percent of the federal poverty line qualify for food stamp benefits. Since income eligibility requirements are more strict for TANF than for food stamps, the vast majority of TANF recipients are also eligible for food stamps. Six studies report food stamp receipt in the quarter prior to leaving TANF using administrative data, and they all show that over 80 percent of leavers were receiving this benefit (Table IV.3).

Table IV.3:
Percent of Single-Parent Leavers Receiving Food Stamps- Administrative Data

State/Study

Exit Cohort Quarter Relative to Exit (%) Receipt Any Time in Year After Exit
Q-1 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4

Arizona1

1Q98 83 51 46 45 42 67

District of Columbia1,2

4Q98 87 40 42 40 41 53

Florida3

2Q97 n.a 45 41 38 35 67

Illinois3

3Q97 - 4Q98 85 33 35 34 33 56

Iowa1

2Q99 85 50 44 42 56 67

Massachusetts2,3

Dec 1998 - Mar 1999 n.a 42 48 46 44 51

Missouri2

4Q96 n.a 57 47 43 40 70

New York

1Q97 n.a n.a n.a n.a 26 n.a

South Carolina2

Oct 1998 - Mar 1999 n.a 78 68 64 61 84

Washington

4Q97 90 46 42 40 36 n.a

Wisconsin2

2Q98-4Q98 84 70 67 65 63 83

Cuyahoga Co.

3Q98 n.a 56 48 48 47 68

Bay Area4

4Q98 n.a 26 28 28 n.a n.a

1Quarterly data calculated from public use files.
2Results are for all cases, not just single-parent cases.
3Q1 Figure represents month 3 after exit.
4Studies report data for month after exit not quarter.
Source: See Appendix B for a complete listing of the leavers studies referenced.

Twelve studies report post-exit food stamp receipt using administrative data, and they show wide variation in the percent of leavers receiving this benefit overall. Food stamp receipt drops significantly after exiting TANF. The actual percentages range from 26 percent in the Bay Area to 78 percent in South Carolina (Figure IV.2). 21

Figure IV.2:
Percent of Single-Parent Welfare Leavers Receiving Food Stamps

Figure IV.2: Percent of Single-Parent Welfare Leavers Receiving Food Stamps

Notes: The graph shows the minimum, maximum, and median food stamp receipt rates. The shaded box represents the range in which the middle 50% of food stamp receipt rates fall. Not all studies provide data for all post-exit quarters. See table IV.3 for more information.

In seven out of the twelve studies reporting food stamp benefit receipt in the quarter after exit, 50 percent or fewer leavers are receiving food stamps. The median level of receipt is 48 percent. These generally low rates of receipt are at least in part due to some recipients no longer being eligible for food stamps. However, the extent to which a change in eligibility status is the reason for the decline in receipt after exit cannot be assessed with these data.

Over the first year after exit, the majority of studies show some decline in food stamp receipt. Figure IV.2 shows that the median percentage of families receiving food stamps falls from 48 percent in the first quarter after exit to 42 percent in the fourth

quarter after exit. The studies reporting the greatest declines, Missouri and South Carolina, have some of the largest receipt rates in the first quarter after exit (Table IV.3). In the fourth quarter after exit, New York reports the lowest rate of receipt among these studies, 26 percent, while Wisconsin has the highest rate, 63 percent. 22

As with returns to TANF, there is evidence in these administrative data of a great deal of cycling on and off food stamps. The percentage of leavers who receive food stamps at any point over the year after exit is significantly higher than the percentage receiving in any of the individual quarters. For example, 67 percent of Arizona leavers receive food stamps at some point in the year after exiting TANF, but only between 42 and 51 percent are receiving benefits in any single quarter. This suggests that while the overall receipt of food stamps declines slowly over time, there is actually a substantial degree of turnover with recipients leaving and entering the food stamp caseload.

These food stamp participation rates include families that have returned to TANF. Thus, these numbers conceal a more extensive decline in food stamp receipt among continuous leavers (those who have not returned to TANF in the year after exit). Those who have returned to TANF are more likely to be receiving food stamps, likely due to the relative ease of accessing food stamps benefits when already receiving TANF. Those who have not returned may have lower receipt over time either because they have more earnings and, therefore, are likely to be less eligible for benefits over time or they moved out of the geographic area being studied and are no longer included in administrative TANF or food stamp data.

Seven studies report food stamp receipt for continuous leavers (Table IV.4). Figure IV.3 shows the five studies reporting receipt of food stamps at any time in the year after exit for continuous and all leavers.

Figure IV.3:
Percent of Single-Parent Welfare Leavers Who Ever Received Food Stamps In Year After Exit--Continuous Leavers v. All Leavers

Figure IV.3: Percent of Single-Parent Welfare Leavers Who Ever Received Food Stamps In Year After Exit--Continuous Leavers v. All Leavers

Notes: See table IV.4 for more information.

In all studies in almost all quarters after exit, the percentage of continuous leavers receiving food stamps after leaving TANF is lower than the percentage of all leavers receiving food stamps. For example, in Arizona, 67 percent of all leavers receive food stamps at some point in the year after leaving TANF, compared with 55 percent of continuous leavers.

Table IV.4:
Percent of Single-Parent Leavers Receiving Food Stamps by Continuous Leaver Status Administrative Data

State

Exit Cohort Quarter Relative to Exit (%) Receipt Any Time in Year After Exit
Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4

Arizona1

1Q98  

All Leavers

  51 46 45 42 67

Continuous Leavers

  46 34 31 28 55

District of Columbia1,2

4Q98  

All Leavers

  40 42 40 41 53

Continuous Leavers

  33 31 26 25 39

Florida3

2Q97  

All Leavers

  45 41 38 35 67

Continuous Leavers

  38 30 26 29 61

Illinois3

3Q97 - 4Q98  

All Leavers

  33 35 34 33 56

Continuous Leavers

  28 33 36 39 n.a.

Iowa1

2Q99  

All Leavers

  50 44 42 56 67

Continuous Leavers

  46 31 25 41 53

Missouri2

4Q98  

All Leavers

  57 47 43 40 70

Continuous Leavers

  49 35 30 26 n.a.

South Carolina2

Oct 1998-Mar 1999  

All Leavers

  78 68 64 61 84

Continuous Leavers

  76 64 59 55 81

1Quarterly data calculated from public use files.
2Results for all cases, not just for single-parent cases.
3Data is monthly, not quarterly.
Source: See Appendix B for a complete listing of the leavers studies referenced.

There is information on food stamp receipt from survey data in nine of the studies (Table IV.5). Where the timing of this information overlaps with that of administrative data, the results are similar, with some survey estimates somewhat lower than administrative data (e.g. Arizona). Missouri again affords the opportunity to observe program participation for a fairly long period after exit. In this study, 47 percent of leavers are receiving food stamps 26 to 34 months after exit, the same percentage receiving food stamps in the second quarter after exit according to Missouris administrative data. According to survey data from five studies, continuous leavers also have lower receipt of food stamps than the entire population of leavers (Table IV.6). Receipt of food stamps ranges from 3 to 12 percentage points lower at the time of the survey for continuous leavers as compared with all leavers. The percentage receiving at any time since exit is 10 percentage points lower for continuous leavers in the two studies that provide this information.

Table IV.5:
Percent of Single-Parent Leavers Receiving Food Stamps: Survey Data

State/Study

Exit Cohort Timing of Survey Post Exit Since Exit (%) At Time of Survey (%)

Arizona1

1Q98 12-18 months 55 38

District of Columbia2

4Q98 ~ 12 months 55 41

Georgia

Jan 1999- June 2000 ~ 6 months n.a 74

Illinois

Dec. 1998 6 - 8 months 44 33

Iowa1,3

2Q99 8 - 12 months n.a 43

Massachusetts2

Dec 1998-Mar 1999 ~10 months 53 38

Missouri2

4Q98 26 - 34 months n.a 47

South Carolina2

Oct. 1998-Mar 1999 12 months n.a. 61

Washington1

Oct. 1998 6 - 8 months 50 n.a

1Calculations from public use data files.
2Results for all cases; not just single-parent cases.
3Month prior to survey
Source: SeeAppendix B for a complete listing of the leavers studies referenced.

Table IV.6:
Percent of Single-Parent Leavers Receiving Food Stamps by Continuous Leavers: Survey Data

State/Study

Exit Cohort Timing of Survey Post Exit Since Exit (%) At Time of Survey (%)

Arizona1

1Q98 12-18 months    

All Leavers

    55 38

Continuous Leavers

    45 27

District of Columbia1,2

4Q98 ~ 12 months    

All Leavers

    55 41

Continuous Leavers

    45 31

Iowa1,3

2Q99 8 - 12 months    

All Leavers

    n.a 43

Continuous Leavers

    n.a 31

Massachusetts1,2

Dec 1998-Mar 1999 ~10 months    

All Leavers

    53 38

Continuous Leavers

      31

South Carolina2

Oct. 1998-Mar.1999 12 months    

All Leavers

    n.a 61

Continuous Leavers

    n.a 58

1Data calculated from public use data files.
2Results are for all cases; not just single-parent cases.
3Month prior to survey.
Source: See Appendix B for a complete listing of the leavers studies referenced.