Brief Five Things You May Not Know about the US Social Safety Net
Sarah Minton, Linda Giannarelli
Display Date
Download brief
(299.57 KB)

The US social safety net is not a single program but consists of many different programs providing different kinds of help to varied individuals and families. We assess how many people are served by the current system and the characteristics of those recipients, considering six kinds of benefits that are means tested and provide regular monthly benefits. The US social safety net reaches a large and diverse population. More than one in six people receive assistance from one of these safety net programs in an average month. People of all ages, races, and geographic areas rely on assistance from various safety net programs. Still, a quarter of people living in poverty do not receive support from any of the programs we examined.

Research Areas Social safety net
Tags Poverty Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Welfare and safety net programs Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Housing subsidies Supplemental nutrition - Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Hunger and food assistance
Policy Centers Income and Benefits Policy Center