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[Excerpt] Need-tested benefits have received increased attention from policymakers in recent years, as spending levels for these programs remain elevated well into the economic expansion that followed the 2007-2009 recession. While information is available on the number of people who receive benefits from individual programs, it is more challenging to examine how these programs interact and the cumulative benefits families receive from them. Case studies based on hypothetical families often show how much in benefits a family may potentially receive from multiple programs under federal and state policies. However, these case studies assume families receive all the benefits they are eligible for and receive them all year. This is often not true.

This report examines estimated benefit receipt by families from nine major need-tested benefit programs in 2012. The nine programs are the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC); Supplemental Security Income (SSI); subsidized housing assistance; the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC); the special supplemental nutrition program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance; the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF); and the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The estimates are derived from a combination of information from a Census Bureau household survey and a model that estimates program eligibility and participation based on information from that survey.


Suggested Citation
Falk, G., Mitchell, A., Lynch, K. E., McCarty, M., Morton, W. R., & Crandall-Hollick, M. L. (2015). Need-tested benefits: Estimated eligibility and benefit receipt by families and individuals (CRS Report R44327). Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service.