Welfare Indicators and Risk Factors: Thirteenth Report to Congress. INDICATOR 7. Program Spell Duration

03/01/2014

Figure IND 7. Percentage of TANF, Food Stamps/SNAP and SSI Spells for Persons Entering Programs during the 2008 SIPP Panel by Length of Spell

(In percent)

Figure IND 7. Percentage of TANF, Food Stamps/SNAP and SSI Spells for Persons Entering Programs during the 2008 SIPP Panel by Length of Spell

Note: Spell length categories are mutually exclusive. Spells separated by only 1 month are not considered separate spells. Due to the length of the observation period, actual spell lengths for spells that lasted more than 20 months cannot be observed. Program spells are defined as those starting during the 2008 SIPP panel (2008 – 2011). For certain age categories, data are not available (NA) because of insufficient sample size. The Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-246) re-named the Food Stamp Program as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as of October 1, 2008. The name change had no effect on the type of benefits or how they are made available to eligible households.

Source: Unpublished tabulations from the Survey of Income and Program Participation, 2008 panel.


  • Figure IND 7 shows the percentage of TANF, SNAP, and SSI spells by spell length categories for persons entering programs in the late 2000s. Between 2008 and 2011, very brief spells lasting four months or less accounted for 49.3 percent of TANF spells, 27.8 percent of SNAP spells, and 31.6 percent of SSI spells.
  • Approximately three-fourths of all TANF spells (78.4 percent) and over half of SNAP and SSI spells (52.2 51.1 percent respectively) lasted one year or less.
  • Table IND 7a shows the percentage of program spells for persons entering programs during the 2008 – 2011 period by length of spell and demographic characteristics. Among child recipients of TANF, most children experienced shorter spells of receipt rather than longer spells of receipt.
  • For SNAP and SSI, the highest percentage of program spells longer than 20 months (44.1 and 52.7 percent respectively) were experienced by adults ages 65 and older.
  • Table IND 7b shows how the percentage of program spells of varying lengths for persons entering programs during selected periods has changed. Spells of welfare receipt were shorter in the early 2000s than in the early 1990s. For instance, 12.6 percent of TANF spells for persons entering TANF between 2008 and 2011 lasted 20 months or longer as compared to 34.4 percent of AFDC spells beginning between 1992 and 1994.

Table IND 7a. Percentage of TANF, SNAP and SSI Spells for Persons Entering Programs during the 2008 SIPP Panel by Length of Spell and Selected Characteristics

Program   Spells <=4 Months Spells 5-12 Months Spells 13-20 Months Spells >20 Months
TANF All Recipients 49.3 29.1 8.9 12.6
Non-Hispanic White 51.5 29.5 7.4 11.7
Non-Hispanic Black 48.6 25.8 11.1 14.5
Hispanic 45.6 33.7 8.6 12.2
Children ages 0-5 39.9 33.7 11.8 14.7
Children ages 6-10 43.1 31.5 12.6 12.8
Children ages 11-15 41.8 24.2 8.5 25.6
Adults ages 16-64 56.4 28.6 7.2 7.8
Adults ages 65 and over 64.1 17.3 0.0 18.6
SNAP All Recipients 27.8 24.4 11.0 36.8
Non-Hispanic White 25.7 27.2 10.8 36.4
Non-Hispanic Black 27.8 20.3 10.5 41.3
Hispanic 30.0 24.2 12.2 33.5
Children ages 0-5 19.9 26.3 10.5 43.4
Children ages 6-10 20.5 27.3 10.4 41.8
Children ages 11-15 25.9 23.8 10.1 40.3
Adults ages 16-64 29.7 24.5 11.8 34.0
Adults ages 65 and over 36.1 14.0 5.8 44.1
SSI All Recipients 31.6 19.5 8.5 40.4
Non-Hispanic White 30.4 18.0 6.2 45.3
Non-Hispanic Black 32.0 21.9 13.8 32.4
Hispanic 35.0 19.0 6.2 39.8
Children ages 0-5 51.4 25.0 6.2 17.4
Children ages 6-10 46.1 25.4 13.2 15.3
Children ages 11-15 41.7 22.2 9.5 26.7
Adults ages 16-64 27.3 19.2 7.4 46.0
Adults ages 65 and over 23.6 12.5 11.2 52.7

Note: Spell length categories are mutually exclusive. Spells separated by only 1 month are not considered separate spells. Program spells are defined as those starting during the 2008 SIPP panel (2008 – 2011). Persons of Hispanic ethnicity may be of any race. 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 Survey of Income and Program Participation, 2008 panel.

Table IND 7b. Percentage of AFDC/TANF, Food Stamps/SNAP, and SSI Spells for Persons Entering Programs during Selected SIPP Panels by Length of Spell

Period Program
Spells <=4
Months
Spells 5-12
Months
Spells 13-20
Months
Spells >20
Months
1992 – 1994 AFDC 30.4 24.7 10.5 34.4
Food Stamps 33.4 24.9 10.2 31.5
SSI 25.7 8.9 4.8 60.6
1993 – 1995 AFDC 30.7 25.4 12.5 31.4
Food Stamps 33.1 26.8 10.1 30.0
SSI 24.0 7.9 4.7 63.4
1996 – 1999 AFDC/TANF 46.6 29.2 11.5 12.7
Food Stamps 43.1 27.7 9.3 19.8
SSI 34.1 19.2 9.1 37.6
2001 – 2003 TANF 49.6 23.7 10.0 16.8
Food Stamps 35.9 24.4 8.9 30.7
SSI 27.9 21.4 7.3 43.5
2004 – 2007 TANF 43.8 29.9 12.2 14.1
Food Stamps 33.1 29.0 9.1 28.8
SSI 24.2 19.8 9.1 47.0
2008 – 2011 TANF 49.3 29.1 8.9 12.6
Food Stamps 27.8 24.4 11.0 36.8
SSI 31.6 19.5 8.5 40.4

Note: Spell length categories are mutually exclusive. Spells separated by only 1 month are not considered separate spells. Due to the length of the observation period, actual spell lengths for spells that lasted more than 20 months cannot be observed. Program spells are defined as those starting during the 2004 SIPP panel (2004 – 2007).

Source: Unpublished tabulations from the Survey of Income and Program Participation, 1992, 1993, 1996, 2001, 2004, and 2008 panels.

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