Welfare Indicators and Risk Factors: Fourteenth Report to Congress. Appendix B. Alternative Definition of Dependence Based on Income from TANF and SNAP

09/22/2015

As directed by the Welfare Indicators Act of 1994 (Public Law 103-432), this report on Welfare Indicators and Risk Factors 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 and/or SSI.

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 lower – 3.0 percent – in 2012 if based on income from TANF and SNAP, as opposed to 5.1 percent when counting income from all three programs (TANF, SNAP, and SSI). 

There also is variation across age groups in the programs upon which individuals are dependent.  The elderly depend more on SSI than on TANF and SNAP; whereas 2.5 percent of elderly persons are dependent when counting the three major types of means-tested assistance, few, 0.5 percent, are dependent when the definition is limited to TANF and SNAP.  In contrast, children are primarily dependent on TANF and SNAP.

Dependence on AFDC/TANF and SNAP receipt has generally declined since 1995 but there is a noteworthy uptick in 2008 given the “Great Recession” of 2007-2009.  Dependence on SSI receipt alone has remained relatively stable overall as shown in Table B-2. The difference between the standard definition (based on all three programs) and the alternative definition (based on TANF and SNAP only) has varied over time.  In 1995, over two-thirds (67.9 percent) of individuals who were dependent under the standard definition also were dependent under the alternative definition shown in this appendix.  By 2012, the proportion had dropped to 58.8 percent.

Table B-1. Percentage of the Total Population with More than 50 Percent of Income from Various Means-Tested Assistance Programs by Selected Characteristics: 2012

 

TANF, SSI  & SNAP

TANF  & SNAP

SSI Only

All Persons

5.1

3.0

1.5

Racial/Ethnic Categories

 

 

 

Non-Hispanic White

3.1

1.8

1.0

Non-Hispanic Black

 12.0

6.7

3.6

Hispanic

7.4

4.7

1.8

Age Categories

 

 

 

Children ages 0-5

9.6

7.0

1.4

Children ages 6-10

8.3

5.4

1.5

Children ages 11-15

7.1

4.7

1.2

Women ages 16-64

5.5

3.2

1.7

Men ages 16-64

3.7

1.9

1.3

Adults ages 65 and over

2.5

0.5

1.6

Family Categories

 

 

 

Persons in married families

1.8

1.0

0.4

Persons in female-headed families

 15.8

 10.0

3.6

Persons in male-headed (no spouse) families

5.8

2.6

2.1

Unrelated persons

6.9

3.5

3.2

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, 2012, 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: 1995-2012

 

TANF, SSI & SNAP

TANF & SNAP

SSI Only

1995

5.3

3.6

1.1

1998

3.8

2.1

1.3

1999

3.3

1.7

1.2

2000

3.0

1.5

1.2

2001

3.1

1.4

1.3

2002

3.2

1.5

1.3

2003

3.6

1.9

1.3

2004

3.7

2.0

1.3

2005

3.8

2.1

1.4

2006

3.7

1.9

1.4

2007

3.5

1.8

1.3

2008

4.0

2.1

1.4

2009

4.6

2.7

1.4

2010

5.3

3.2

1.4

2011

5.2

3.2

1.4

2012

5.1

3.0

1.5

Source: Unpublished tabulations from the Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement, 1996-2012, analyzed using the TRIM3 microsimulation model.

 

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