Final Synthesis Report of Findings from ASPE "Leavers" Grants. Other Sources of Support


There are a number of other sources of public support that can provide crucial assistance to families that have exited welfare. These include housing assistance through subsidies or public housing, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program and Social Security program income for persons with disabilities or survivors of beneficiaries. Other programs include reduced price or free school lunches, the Women, Infant, and Children's (WIC) nutritional supplement program, fuel/energy assistance, and unemployment compensation. In addition, many working leavers are eligible for the federal and/or state Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) that supplement incomes of low-income workers. A few studies ask about receipt of these benefits in their surveys, some asking about receipt at the time of the survey and some about receipt at any point since exit. 25

There is a wide variation in the percent of leavers receiving housing assistance in the eleven studies reporting this information (Table IV.10). Rates of receipt of housing assistance at the time of the survey range from 18 percent in Arizona to 60 percent in Georgia. Receipt of housing assistance at any point since exit ranges from 14 percent of welfare leavers in Illinois to 53 percent in Massachusetts.

Table IV.10:
Percent of Single-Parent Leavers Receiving Other Publicly Funded Sources of Income: Survey Data


Exit Cohort Timing of Survey Post Exit Housing SSI Social Security School Lunch WIC Fuel/ Energy Unem. Comp. EITC

Results for time of survey


1Q98 12 - 18 months 18 12 n.a 27 25 n.a n.a 52

District of Columbia1,2,3

4Q98 ~ 12 months 27 6/64 7 n.a 12/354 3 3 n.a


Jan 1999-June 2000 ~ 6 months 60 n.a n.a 87 n.a n.a n.a n.a


4Q98 26 - 34 months 26 12 n.a n.a 23 n.a 2 n.a

South Carolina2

Oct98-Mar99 12 months 24 10 8 48 26 n.a n.a n.a

Bay Area

4Q98 6 - 12 months 24 n.a n.a n.a n.a n.a n.a 32

Results for time since exit

District of Columbia1,2

4Q98 ~ 12 months 31 7/84 8 n.a 16/464 9 5 50


3Q97-4Q98 6 - 8 months 14 12 6 40 20 13 4 41


2Q99 8 - 12 months 23 7 7 46 5 32 n.a n.a 65


Dec98-Mar99 ~ 12 months 53 6 20 7 n.a 71 27 27 9 42


4Q97 6 - 8 months 17 4 3 4 52 n.a 16 4 65

Cuyahoga County

3Q98 14 - 21 months 28 5 n.a n.a n.a n.a n.a n.a

1Calculated from public use data.
2Results are for all cases; not just single-parent cases.
3Month prior to survey.
5Breakfast or lunch.
6At time of survey.
7Includes SSI, Social Security, and SSDI.
Source: See Appendix BB for a complete listing of the leavers studies referenced.

The variation in SSI receipt is lower, with between 4 and 12 percent of former recipients receiving this form of cash assistance in the nine studies reporting this benefit. Massachusetts reports a higher percentage (20 percent), but this includes Social Security and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) receipt. For those studies reporting Social Security receipt separately, the combined SSI and Social Security percentages range from 8 percent (Washington) to 18 percent (Illinois and South Carolina). Since this income is generally for persons with a disability that prevents them from working, some leavers who are not working may be relying on this income rather than cash assistance from the TANF program.

Receipt of nutritional assistance programs such as reduced price or free school lunch and WIC are much more common, which likely reflects higher income thresholds for eligibility and easier eligibility processes, as well as widespread coverage among low-income children. Receipt of reduced-price or free school lunch varies from 27 percent in Arizona to 87 percent in Georgia. The percent of former recipient families receiving WIC generally ranges from one-quarter to one-third.

Four studies report fuel/energy assistance and five report unemployment compensation receipt. Fuel/energy assistance use ranges from 9 percent in DC to 27 percent in Massachusetts. This higher percentage for Massachusetts likely results from its harsher winters and therefore greater need for fuel assistance. Unemployment compensation use is very low, from 2 percent to 9 percent. These low rates may reflect the fact that many leavers do not have sufficiently high earnings or quarters of employment to be eligible for unemployment insurance.

A final source of public support is the federal EITC. Working families with relatively low earnings are eligible to receive this credit from the federal government.26 Seven studies report how many leavers received this credit. Results range from 32 percent in the Bay Area to 65 percent in Washington and Iowa (these percentages are for all leavers, not just working leavers). Arizona and Illinois also report that a higher percentage of leavers had heard of the EITC, 66 percent and 76 percent, respectively. Illinois probes further and finds that although three-quarters of leavers have heard of the EITC, only 47 percent say they know what it is, a percentage not much higher than those receiving the credit.