Five Things You May Not Know About the US Social Safety Net

Brief

Five Things You May Not Know About the US Social Safety Net

Abstract

The US social safety net is not a single program but rather consists of many different programs providing different kinds of help to a variety of 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.

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