Low-Income Families

HEHS-95-162R: Published: Jun 28, 1995. Publicly Released: Jun 28, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided further information on the incomes and relative poverty status of families receiving Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) in comparison with nonAFDC working poor families. GAO noted that: (1) there are nearly 80 means-tested programs targeting assistance to various groups of low-income families; (2) in fiscal year (FY) 1993, the public assistance programs cost $223 billion and comprised 16 percent of that year's federal budget; (3) states provided an additional $88 billion for the means-tested programs in FY 1993; (4) federal spending for all assistance programs has increased 58 percent since 1980; (5) 5 programs account for 65 percent of program outlays and have doubled their spending since 1980; (6) many AFDC families receive assistance from multiple programs, but there is no data available on the extent to which AFDC families are eligible for or receive benefits from other programs; (7) the median income for all AFDC families ranges between $633 and $767, while the median income of AFDC families who receive multiple benefits ranges between $903 and $1,090; (8) families receiving assistance from both AFDC and the Food Stamp Program may not be eligible for the maximum available benefits under other assistance programs; (9) the AFDC median income level tends to be at or below the poverty line; and (10) working poor families have median monthly incomes comparable with or lower than AFDC families who receive benefits from other assistance programs, depending on the method used to value Medicaid benefits.

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