This ASPE Research Brief summarizes the findings from the 2008 Indicators of Welfare Dependence Annual Report to Congress reporting the extent to which American families depend on income from welfare programs. The report provides welfare dependence indicators through 2006, reflecting changes that have taken place since passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act in August 1996.
In 2005, 3.8 percent of the population was dependent on social welfare programs — they received more than half of their total family income from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Food Stamp, and/or Supplemental Security Income programs. Since 2000, the dependency rate has increased from a low of 3.0 percent but the 2005 rate is still lower than the 1996 rate (5.2 percent). Two and one half (2.59) million fewer Americans were dependent on social welfare programs in 2005 than they were in 1996, the year of passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act.
The Welfare Indicators Act of 1994 requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to prepare an annual report to Congress on indicators welfare dependence. The Indicators of Welfare Dependence report is prepared within the Office of Human Services Policy and delivered to Congress each spring. As mandated under the Congressional act, the report addresses the rate of welfare dependency, the degree and duration of welfare recipiency and dependence, and predictors of welfare dependence. Further, analyses of means-tested assistance in the report include benefits under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program; the Food Stamp Program, and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. The report also includes risk factors related to economic security, employment, and nonmarital births, as well an appendix with data related to the above programs.