As directed by the Welfare Indicators Act of 1994 (Public Law 103-432), this annual report on Indicators of Welfare Dependence focuses on dependence on three programs: the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, formerly the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program; the Food Stamp Program; and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. We adopt the following definition of welfare dependence for this report:
- Welfare dependence is the proportion of all individuals in families that receive more than half of their total family income in one year from TANF, food stamps and/or SSI.
This appendix examines an alternative definition of dependence that considers TANF and food stamps alone, excluding SSI. As shown in Table B-1, the rate of dependency would have been much lower — only 2.1 percent — in 2005 if based on income from TANF and food stamps, as opposed to 3.8 percent when counting income from all three programs (TANF, food stamps and SSI).
There also is significant variation across age groups in the programs upon which individuals are dependent. The elderly depend more on SSI than on TANF and food stamps; whereas 2.2 percent of elderly persons are dependent when counting the three major types of means-tested assistance, very few, 0.2 percent, are dependent when the definition is limited to TANF and food stamps. In contrast, children are primarily dependent on TANF and food stamps.
Dependency on AFDC/TANF and food stamp receipt has declined since 1995, while dependency on SSI receipt alone has remained stable, as shown in Table B-2. As a result, the difference between the standard definition (based on all three programs) and the alternative definition (based on TANF and food stamps only) has grown. In 1995, over two-thirds (68 percent) of individuals who were dependent under the standard definition also were dependent under the alternative definition shown in this appendix. By 2005, the proportion had dropped to just over half (55 percent). If this report had focused on the alternative definition of dependence, it would have shown an even larger decline in dependence than usually reported. For example, between 1995 and 2005, dependency declined by 42 percent (3.6 percent to 2.1 percent) under the alternative definition, compared to a decline of 28 percent (5.3 percent to 3.8 percent) under the standard definition.
Percentage of the Total Population with More than 50 Percent of Income from Various Means-Tested Assistance Programs
by Selected Characteristics: 2005
Percentage of the Total Population with More than 50 Percent of Income
from Various Means-Tested Assistance Programs: 1995-2005