Comparing the New (TANF) with the Old (AFDC) - Eligibility And Benefit Payments
family benefits percent families
Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC)
Under the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program, states determined the eligibility of needy families with children. However, it had to be done within federal
|State||100% MOE level 1||75% MOE level 2||80% MOE level 3|
|Dist. of Columbia||93,931,934||70,448,951||75,145,547|
|SOURCE: "Table 2:14. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Financial Data: State MOE Requirements, Updated TANF MOE [Maintenance-of-Effort] Table for Fiscal Year 2001," in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program (TANF) Fifth Annual Report to Congress, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance, February 2003 [Online] http://www.acf.dhhs.gov/programs/ofa/annualreport5/ [accessed January 11, 2004]|
guidelines. If the state determined that a family was financially needy, the family was guaranteed AFDC benefits.
The individual states defined "need" as what a person must have to exist: food, shelter, clothing, household supplies, utilities, and personal care items. States set their own benefits levels, established (within federal limitations) income and resource limits, and administered the program or supervised its administration. Eligible recipients received benefits no matter what the status of the economy, even in recessions and fiscal downturn. Eligibility for AFDC ended at a child's eighteenth birthday or, at state option, at a child's nineteenth birthday if the child was a full-time student in a secondary or technical school and was expected to complete the program before she or he reached age nineteen.
To receive AFDC payments, a family had to pass two tests. First, the family's gross income could not be greater than 185 percent of the need standard set by the state. For example, in Colorado, where the state had established a 1996 need standard of $421 per month for a three-person family, the family could earn no more than $779 per month to be eligible for AFDC. Second, the family's net income (income after taxes and certain other deductions) had to be below the state's payment standard (the amount the state pays), which in most states was below the need standard. (See Table 7.4.)
Need standards, based on 100 percent of "need," varied widely from state to state. For example, in 1996 the states of New Hampshire ($2,034), Washington ($1,252), Hawaii ($1,140), and Vermont ($1,148) believed the monthly cost of maintaining a basic life for a family of three in their respective states was much higher than did the states of Indiana ($320), Delaware ($338), Nebraska ($364), New Mexico ($389), Mississippi ($368), and the territories of the Virgin Islands ($300) and Puerto Rico ($360). The U.S. average need standard for a three-person family in 1996 was $675 a month, while the median (half were higher, half were lower) need standard among the fifty states and the District of Columbia was $645. (See Table 7.4.)
In addition, Table 7.4 shows typical 1996 maximum AFDC payments for three-member families. As in the need standards, states varied widely in typical monthly payments. In all cases, the typical maximum monthly AFDC payments were well below the 1996 federal poverty guidelines for a family of three ($12,516 annually, or $1,043 per month). The typical 1996 AFDC payments for a family of three in Alaska ($923), Hawaii ($712), New York, Suffolk County ($703), Connecticut ($636), Vermont ($650), and California ($607) were much higher than in Mississippi ($120), Alabama ($164), Tennessee ($185), Texas ($188), and Louisiana ($190). The U.S. average payment for a family of three was $399, and the median payment was $389.
Most AFDC families were eligible for and received food stamps, an important supplement to the cash assistance paid under AFDC. Table 7.4 shows the combined benefit amounts and their percentage of 1996 poverty guidelines (based on the guideline for a family of three in
the forty-eight contiguous states). Of the 50 states, Mississippi had the lowest combined benefits ($433), which amounted to 40 percent of the poverty rate ($1,082 a month). Hawaii had the highest at $1,183, or 95 percent of Hawaii's poverty rate of $1,244 per month.
In 1996, in almost four-fifths (78 percent) of the states and territories, typical payment amounts were well below the state-established need standards. Only one-fifth (22 percent) of the states/territories had typical payment amounts equal to their need standard for a three-person family. In 1980 payments were more likely to equal need standards; thirty-two states and territories (60.4 percent) had payments equal to need standards. Measured in constant (1996) dollars, the average need standard declined by 30 percent from 1970 to 1996, while the maximum benefit declined by 51 percent.
Similarly, typical monthly AFDC payments dropped sharply in real value (buying power). The typical monthly payment per family changed from $178 in 1970 to $377 in 1995. However, in constant 1995 dollars, the typical benefit fell from $704 in 1970 to $377 in 1995, a 46 percent drop. Because the average family size became smaller over this period, average benefits per person dropped less sharply (25.8 percent). (See Table 7.5.)
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
Under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, states decide how much to aid a needy family. No federal guidelines exist for determining eligibility and no requirement mandates that states aid all needy families. Though TANF does not require states to have a need standard or a gross income limit, as did AFDC, many states have based their TANF programs in part on their earlier practices.
The maximum benefit is the amount paid to a family with no countable income. (Federal law specifies what income counts toward figuring benefits and what income, such as child support, is to be disregarded by the state.) The maximum benefit is only to be paid to those families that comply with TANF's work requirements or other program
|State||Gross income limit (185 percent of need standard)||100 percent of "need"||Maximum AFDC grant2||Food stamp benefit3||Combined benefits||Combined benefits as a percent of 1996 poverty guidelines4||AFDC benefits as a percent of 1996 poverty guidelines4|
|Median AFDC State||720||645||389||310||699||65||36|
|1In most states these benefit amounts apply also to two-parent families of three (where the second parent is incapacitated or unemployed). Some, however, increase benefits for such families.|
|2In states with area differentials, figure shown is for area with highest benefit.|
|3Food stamp benefits are based on maximum AFDC benefits shown and assume deductions of $381 monthly ($134 standard household deduction plus $247 maximum allowable deduction for excess shelter cost) in the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia. In the remaining four jurisdictions these maximum allowable food stamp deductions are assumed: Alaska, $658, Hawaii, $542, Guam, $569; and Virgin Islands, $300. If only the standard deduction were assumed, food stamp benefits would drop by about $74 monthly in most of the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia. Maximum food stamp benefits from October 1995 through September 1996 are $313 for a family of three except in these four jurisdictions, where they are as follows: (urban) Alaska, $401; Hawaii, $522; Guam, $461; and Virgin Islands, $402.|
|4This column is based on the 1996 poverty guideline for a family of three persons in the 48 contiguous states, $12,980, converted to a monthly rate of $1,082. For Alaska, the guideline is $16,220; for Hawaii, $14,930.|
|5In these states part of the AFDC cash payment has been designated as energy aid and is disregarded by the state in calculating food stamp benefits. Illinois disregards $18. Kansas disregards $57. Maryland disregards $43. New Jersey disregards $25. New York disregards $53. Ohio disregards $14. Oregon disregards $118. Rhode Island disregards $127.85.|
|Washington disregards $86.|
|Note: Puerto Rico does not have a food stamp program; instead a cash nutritional assistance payment is given to recipients.|
|SOURCE: Congressional Research Service telephone survey of the states|
|Average monthly benefit per family||$178||$210||$274||$331||$359||$381||$388||$389||$373||$377|
|In 1995 dollars2||704||601||518||470||484||471||434||423||394||377|
|Average monthly benefit per person||46||63||94||113||123||131||135||136||131||135|
|In 1995 dollars2||182||180||178||160||166||162||151||148||138||135|
|Median State benefit in July for a family unit of four with no income1||221||264||350||399||420||432||435||435||435||435|
|In 1995 dollars2||874||756||662||566||566||534||487||473||459||435|
|1Among 50 states and the District of Columbia.|
|2The constant dollar numbers were calculated using the CPI-U.|
|Note: AFDC benefit amounts have not been reduced by child support enforcement collections.|
|SOURCE: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Family Support Administration, and the Congressional Research Service|
requirements established by the state, such as parental and personal responsibility rules.
Though most states vary benefits according to family size, some eliminate or restrict benefit increases due to the birth of a new child to a recipient already receiving benefits. Instead benefits depend on family size at the time of enrollment in sixteen states. Idaho pays a flat monthly grant that is the same regardless of family size. Wisconsin pays benefits based on work activity of the recipient and not on family size. Five states provide an increase in benefits to TANF families following the birth of an additional child.
|State||July 1970||July 1975||July 1980||January 1985||January 1990||January 1995||January 2000||January 2003||% real change from July 1970–January 20031|
|District of Columbia||195||243||286||327||409||420||379||379||−58.3|
|New York–New York City||279||332||394||474||577||577||577||577||−55.6|
|New York–Suffolk County||NA||NA||NA||579||703||703||703||703||NA|
|Note: The inflation factor used to convert July 1970 dollars to January 2003 dollars was 4.659 (representing the change in the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers).|
|SOURCE: "Table 7-13. Maximum AFDC/TANF Benefit for a Family of Three (Parent with Two Children) July 1970–January 2003," in The Green Book, U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Ways and Means, 2003 [Online] http://waysandmeans.house.gov/media/pdf/greenbook2003/Section7.pdf [accessed January 28, 2004]|
In a comparison of AFDC and TANF maximum benefits for a family of three, the majority of states did not change their maximum benefits between January 1995 and January 2000. When inflation is taken into account, the value of benefits in most states has actually declined. (See Table 7.6.)
Most families receiving TANF benefits are also eligible for food stamps. A single benefit determination is made for both cash and food assistance. Though the eligibility and benefit amounts for TANF are determined by the states, food stamp eligibility and benefit amounts are determined by federal law and are consistent in all states.
Food stamp benefits, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, are not counted in determining the TANF cash benefit. However, TANF benefits are considered part of a family's countable income in determining food stamp benefits, which are reduced 30 cents for each dollar of countable income. Therefore, food stamp benefits are higher in states with lower TANF benefits and vice versa. As of January 1, 2003, combined monthly benefits for a family of three were lowest in Mississippi ($525), Puerto Rico ($532), Tennessee ($535), Texas ($546), and Arkansas ($549). Alaska ($1,157) and Hawaii ($1,012) had the highest combined benefit for a family of three. (Poverty guidelines are higher in these two states because of higher costs of living.) Other states that paid the most in benefits included Vermont ($902), California ($881 in region 1), and New York ($898 in Suffolk County). (See Table 7.7.)