As directed by the Welfare Indicators Act of 1994 (Public Law 103-432), this 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 Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (formerly 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, SNAP
This appendix examines an alternative definition of dependence that considers TANF and SNAP alone, excluding SSI. As shown in Table B-1, the rate of dependency would have been much lower – only 2.7 percent – in 2009 if based on income from TANF and SNAP, as opposed to 4.6 percent when counting income from all three programs (TANF, SNAP, 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 SNAP; whereas 2.2 percent of elderly persons are dependent when counting the three major types of means-tested assistance, very few, 0.3 percent, are dependent when the definition is limited to TANF and SNAP. In contrast, children are primarily dependent on TANF and SNAP.
Dependency on AFDC/TANF and SNAP receipt has generally declined since 1995 but there is a noteworthy uptick in 2009 related to the 2007-2009 recession. Dependency on SSI receipt alone has remained relatively stable overall 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 SNAP only) has grown somewhat. 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 2009, the proportion had dropped to 59 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 2009, dependency declined by 25 percent (3.6 percent to 2.7 percent) under the alternative definition, compared to a decline of 13 percent (5.3 percent to 4.6 percent) under the standard definition.
Table B-1. Percentage of the Total Population with More than 50 Percent of Income from Various Means-Tested Assistance Programs by Selected Characteristics: 2005
Note: Income is measured as total family income.
Persons of Hispanic ethnicity may be of any race. Beginning in 2002, estimates for Whites and Blacks are for persons reporting a single race only. Persons who reported more than one race are included in the total for all persons but are not shown under any race category. Due to small sample size, American Indians/Alaska Natives, Asians and Native Hawaiians/Other Pacific Islanders are included in the total for all persons but are not shown separately.
Source: Unpublished tabulations from the Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement, 2006, analyzed using the TRIM3 microsimulation model.
Table B-2. Percentage of the Total Population with More than 50 Percent of Income from Various Means-Tested Assistance Programs: 1995-2005
Source: Unpublished tabulations from the Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement, 1996-2006, analyzed using the TRIM3 microsimulation model.