List of 80+ Federal Welfare Programs

Welfare programs are government subsidies to the poor. These programs represent “entitlements” to all Americans but benefits are only paid to those who work, but earn too little.

These means-tested welfare system consists of 80+ low-income programs providing cash, food, housing, medical care, and social services to poor and lower income Americans.

For instance, SNAP enables recipients to purchase more food, Medicaid provides people with health care coverage, and Pell grants make postsecondary education more affordable for students.

In 2017, federal spending on 13 largest of these low-income programs — which account for the bulk of welfare spending, totaled $728 billion with Medicaid accounted for half, followed in size by the refundable portion of the EITC, SNAP and SSI.1

In total, these [4] four programs — which account for the bulk of welfare spending — comprised almost 80% of total spending or about $585 billion.2

Federal Spending on Major Welfare Programs

Welfare Program201520162017
EITC and Child Tax Credit818179
Housing Assistance484949
Pell Grants323028
Child Nutrition212222
Head Start101010
Employment & Training666
Child Care566
Total Welfare Spending713732728

Here is a list of 80+ federal welfare programs

An estimated over 100 million people — about a third of the U.S. population (35.4%)3, received aid from at least one of these programs at an average cost of $9,000 per recipient. Nearly two-thirds lived in households with children.

  1. Data Source: Retrieved July 3, 2018.
  2. Government Accountability Office, FEDERAL LOW-INCOME PROGRAMS, July 2015
  3. Terence P. Jeffrey, The 35.4 Percent: 109,631,000 on Welfare