Public Assistance Receipt in the Past 12 Months for Households: 2008 and 2009

October 2010
Report Number: ACSBR/09-13
Shelley K. Irving


This report presents data on public assistance receipt at the national and state levels based on the 2008 and 2009 American Community Surveys (ACS). Public assistance income, or welfare, provides cash payments to poor families and includes general assistance and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), which replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) in 1997. Public assistance income does not include Supplemental Security Income (SSI), noncash benefits such as food stamps, or separate payments received for hospital or other medical care (vendor payments). To qualify for public assistance benefits, the income and/or assets of an individual or family must fall below specified thresholds. However, unlike AFDC benefits, TANF benefits are time-limited, require most adult recipients to work, and give states increased flexibility in program design.

The ACS questions on participation in public assistance were designed to identify households in which one or more current members received public assistance during the past 12 months. These data are for households, not individuals. If any person living at the sample address at the time of the interview received public assistance, the household is included in the count.

September 2010
October 2010