chapter  7
After PRWORA: The American Welfare System
Pages 37

The welfare system that evolved from the Social Security Act of 1935 and various reforms over time is complex and expensive (Howard, 2003). The modest welfare programs established in 1935 have evolved and been transformed into much more sophisticated and expensive programs, and dozens of new programs have been established. The result is a modern welfare system composed of at least eighty-five programs that provide means-tested cash and in-kind assistance to low-income citizens. Table 7.1 lists eighty-five FY 2002 programs, along with the combined federal and state expenditures for each. The programs serve only individuals who meet low-income and minimum-asset guidelines and other eligibility requirements. Social Security and unemployment compensation are not included, because they are not welfare programs. A review of Table 7.1 shows that the programs vary greatly in size, cost, and recipient base. A few of the programs account for the vast majority of all welfare expenditures. Expenditures for medical aid programs account for 54 percent of total costs, while cash aid programs account for another 19 percent. Food assistance is only 7.5 percent of expenditures, while housing programs constitute another 6.8 percent. The combined costs of education, job training, energy, and other services account for less than 13 of total costs (Figure 7.1).