Public Assistance Receipt in the Past 12 Months for Households: 2009 and 2010

October 2011
Report Number: ACSBR/10-13
Shelley K. Irving


Public assistance income 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/SNAP, or separate payments received for hospital or other medical care. To qualify for public assistance benefits, the income and 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.

This report presents data on public assistance receipt at the national and state levels based on the 2009 and the 2010 American Community Surveys (ACS). 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. Data are for households, not individuals. If any person living at the sample address at the time of the interview received public assistance in the past 12 months, then the household is included in the estimate of public assistance participation.

November 2011
September 2011