US Welfare Statistics for 2023 [Latest Data Covered]

US welfare statistics
Written by Everly Scott

Millions of US citizens still live in poverty and face financial struggles due to low income, job loss, physical disability, etc. To help such families pay their food, electricity and other bills, the US government has started a series of Welfare programs. There are six major Welfare Programs initiated by the US government, i.e.:

  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • Housing Assistance
  • Supplemental Security Income
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (SNAP)
  • Earned Income Tax Credit
  • Medicaid

These Federal Welfare Programs were first initiated during the great depression in 1935. Every year, the US government spends billions of dollars on such welfare programs to provide food, education, cash, social service, training and housing for low-income Americans irrespective of their age, color or creed. Here are some key statistics on US welfare programs to provide a clear picture of these schemes.

Welfare Programs Cost Statistics

1) In 2019, the US Government spent 8 percent of their total government spending on welfare programs, roughly around $361 billion. [Source: CBPP]

public welfare expenditures backgrounder

2) In 2020, the US Government spent $9.88 trillion on all welfare programs in America. [Source: US Government Spending].

Out of this amount, $36,335,896,388 billion was utilized for the SNAP welfare program, in which around 38,066,477 million people participated. Each SNAP recipient earned around $136.36 per month in 2020 through this welfare program. [Source: Statista]

3) In 2023, the US Government allotted $8.30 trillion funds to spend on all welfare programs, out of which $4.83 trillion was budgeted for Federal spending.

From the rest, $2.09 trillion was used for State spending and $2.18 trillion for local expenditures. [Source: US Government Spending]

Poverty Statistics

1) 5.5 Million People living in the Deep Poverty Threshold are not getting benefited from Welfare Programs.

More than 13 million people in America live in deep poverty (income falls 50% below the Poverty Threshold), out of which 70% of people benefit from Welfare programs while the remaining 5.5 million people did not get it. [Source: Urban Institute]

2) In 2019, the poverty rate of American Citizens decreased by 1.3 percent; 10.5 percent of US citizens lived in poverty. [Source: US Census Bureau]

3) Compared to 2019, the poverty rate decreased in 2020; 9.2 percent of US citizens lived in poverty. [Source: Urban Institute]

Poverty rate decreases in 2020

4) Among the Top 10 states with Highest Poverty Rate, Mississippi excels in the chart.

In 2020-21, the highest poverty rate was recorded in Mississippi, with 20.6 percentage of people on welfare of state residents living in poverty. [Source: World Population Review]

5) In 2018, More Women were living in poverty (around 56%) in the US than Men.

The statistics reveal that Women had higher rates of Poverty than Men irrespective of all races and ethnicities. Almost 1 in every 4 unmarried mothers in the US lived in poverty. Starting at the age of 5, the Poverty rate is highest among Women than men throughout their lives. [Source: American Progress]

Poverty rate by gender and ethnicities

Welfare Demographics and Participation Statistics of Recipients

1) Most US citizens availing benefits of Welfare Programs are Non-Hispanic Whites (around 43%).

The majority of US Welfare Program Recipients are Whites. After that, 26% of demographics of welfare recipients are Hispanics, followed by 23 percentage of blacks on welfare of non-Hispanic blacks. The rest, 8%, belongs to Asian-Americans and Native Americans. [Source: Urban Institute]

2) Compared to 2018, there were 3 billion fewer Food Stamp Recipients in 2019.

In 2019, 33.6 million people benefitted from the SNAP welfare program, with a decrease of over 10 million people over the past three years. The decrease indicates that Americans are now less dependent on the SNAP Welfare Program. Despite this decrease, SNAP has been the most crucial welfare program in the US to fight against hunger. [Source: USDA]

3) In 2019, 47% of households having a married couple received SNAP welfare program benefits.

Around 41.2% of households with at least one member over the age of 60 years received the benefits of the SNAP program, and 29.9% of households receiving benefits of this program had a child of 18 years or less. [Source: United States Census Bureau]

SNAP Participants Demographics

4) In June 2020, 2,930,544 US Recipients availed the benefits of the TANF program, out of which the majority were children.

This is one of the most worrying welfare facts as it indicates that children in the US are the most vulnerable citizens of the Country. According to Government statistic on welfare, there were only 797,744 adults receiving TANF program benefits in June 2020. The two top cities ranking this chart are New York and California. [Source: FAS]

5) In 2018, the highest SNAP participation rate was witnessed in New Mexico, i.e. 17.3 Percent.

While New Mexico had the highest number of SNAP recipients in 2018, Wyoming had the lowest participation rate, i.e. 5% only, and West Virginia had the second-highest participation rate at 16.6%. [Source: United States Census Bureau]

6) In 2019, the Majority of SNAP households in the US were headed by White People rather than Black.

Around 75.8% of SNAP households were headed by a white person in the US, while only 12.5% were headed by a Black person and 13.6% by a Hispanic person. There were 12.3% of SNAP households headed by a female without a spouse. [Source: Urban Census Bureau]

7) Immigrant Households are more dependent on the US Welfare Programs than Native Citizens; Every second immigrant household is enrolled in Welfare Programs.

Around 51% percent of Immigrant households are availing benefits from one of the US Welfare Programs, while only 30% of native citizens are enrolled in such programs. [Source: Center for Immigration Studies]

Immigrants use more welfare programs than native citizens

8) Out of every 10 Americans, Four have been a part of at least one Welfare Program for more than three years.

According to the data, 43% of welfare demographics recipients have been the part for more than three years. 31.2% of Welfare Recipients needed financial help and stayed with the financial welfare program for one year. On the other hand, 13.9% of Welfare recipients stayed with at least one welfare program for two years, while only 11.9% have been part of such programs for over two to three years. [Source: Urban Institute]

9) Around 20% of US Citizens have been enrolled in the Medicaid Welfare Program; Over nine million children have been enrolled in healthcare benefits.

Medicaid Welfare Programs provide free or low-cost medical care to help number of people on welfare of all ages. One such program is the Child’s Health Insurance Program, which provides health benefits to all those children who have not been covered under any other source of health care programs. Every year, millions of children get enrolled in this program. [Source: KFF Organisation]

10) Six out of Ten Medicaid Adult Recipients are employed, out of which nearly 50% are working in the Agriculture sector.

 As per Welfare Dependency Statistics, around 47% of Medicaid recipients work in the Agriculture industry. Among the remaining ones, half are employed in the education and healthcare sector, while 14% of recipients work in the manufacturing industry. [Source: KFF Organisation]

11) Medicaid Program Supports More than half a million cashiers in America.

According to data, around 401,000 adult Medicaid recipients work in nursing, psychiatry and other healthcare sectors. The program supports more than 3 million retail workers in the US. [Source: KFF Organisation]

Medicaid recipients demographics

12) In 2020, a total of $8,059,114 in SSI funds was provided to Americans, the largest share allocated for disabled and visually impaired people.

Out of the total SSI funds in 2020, around $6.9 million went for disabled and visually-impaired people, while the $1,163,569 went for old-aged people. Americans of age 65 or older received a total of $2,298,411 of this fund, while the remaining $1,129,729 was allocated for people of 18 years or so. [Source: SSA]

13) In 2020, Virginia recorded the Highest Amount of Federal Funding Per Resident, i.e. $10,301.

As per Welfare Statistics, California received the highest amount of total federal funding of $436.10 billion. But, the state’s federal funding per resident was insignificant, i.e. $12. On the other hand, New Mexico witnessed the highest percentage of this fund, i.e. 17.40%. [Source: World Population Review]

14) Every Month, more than 20 million American children get an affordable, suitable diet with the SNAP Program.

SNAP is a crucial welfare program that helps millions of children get an adequate diet every month. Among the total recipients of this SNAP program, 44% are children, and 21% are adults. Out of this 44%, 31% of children are under the age of 4 years and preschoolers, while the rest belong to 5-11. [Source: CBPP]

SNAP helped people affording adequate diet

15) Every Month, Around 59 Million Americans receive the benefits of Welfare Programs, Out of which 24 million are children.

Around 19% of the total US population gets benefited from one of the several welfare programs. SNAP has the highest recipients of 40 million, using it every month out of all the programs. Among these 59 Million Americans, 41% of recipients are children under 18, while 50% come under the age of 18-64. [Source: Urban Institute]

Welfare Fraud Statistics

1) In 2019, 10.6% of total federal welfare payments included improper and fraudulent welfare payments.

This 10.6% of the total federal welfare payments account for $99.1 billion, which were filed improperly or fraudulent in 2019. In total, this amount was more than the entire budget of TANF, WIC, Child Care, Child Nutrition, Job Training and other lifeline programs altogether. [Source: Federal Safety Net]

2) 6.8% of SNAP Payments and 10.5% of Child Nutrition Payments were filed fraudulently in 2019.

OMB assessed these figures to categorize the errors responsible for the fraudulent payments that get filled each year at a different rate. [Source: Federal Safety Net]


Every Year, Millions of US Citizens get help in terms of food, education, better healthcare services, cash and income through these various Welfare Programs conducted by the US Government. Each of these programs has different eligibility criteria and target audiences in multiple categories. So, if you know someone who is in urgent need of assistance under these programs, you must first check these statistics and eligibility criteria.

On average, 20% of total US Citizens depend upon at least one welfare program to live everyday life, and together, these programs cost around $212 billion a year to the Country. The most common programs among these are TANF, SNAP, Medicaid and Housing Assistance.

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About the author

Everly Scott

Everly Scott is a research-oriented writer. She loves numbers and reads research papers as a hobby. At Gamepolar, she covers Statistics articles & data.