List of 80+ Federal Welfare Programs

Welfare programs are government subsidies to the poor. The 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 2013, federal spending on 10 largest of these low-income programs — which account for the bulk of welfare spending, totaled $742 billion with Medicaid accounted for 39%, followed in size by SNAP, the refundable portion of the EITC, and SSI.

In total, these [4] four programs — which account for the bulk of welfare spending — comprised almost two-thirds (65%) of total spending or about $480 billion.1

Federal Spending on 10 Major Means-Tested Programs (2013)

Welfare Spending

An estimated over 100 million people — about a third of the U.S. population (35.4%)2, 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.

Here is a list of 80+ federal welfare programs

Family Planning

Consolidated Health Centers

Transitional Cash and Medical Services for Refugees

State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

Voluntary Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit — Low Income Subsidy


Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program

Breast/Cervical Cancer Early Detection

Maternal and Child Health Block Grant

Indian Health Service

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

Supplemental Security Income

Additional Child Tax Credit

Earned Income Tax Credit (refundable component)

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

School Breakfast Program (free/reduced price components)

National School Lunch Program (free/reduced price components)

Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)

Early Reading First

Rural Education Achievement Program

Mathematics and Science Partnerships

Improving Teacher Quality State Grants

Academic Competitiveness and Smart Grant Program

Single-Family Rural Housing Loans

Rural Rental Assistance Program

Water and Waste Disposal for Rural Communities

Public Works and Economic Development

Supportive Housing for the Elderly

Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities

Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance

Community Development Block Grants

Homeless Assistance Grants

Home Investment Partnerships Program (HOME)

Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA)

Public Housing

Indian Housing Block Grants

Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers

Neighborhood Stabilization Program

Weatherization Assistance Program

Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

Indian Human Services

Food Program Nutrition Assistance for Puerto Rico

The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)

Nutrition Program for the Elderly

Indian Education

Adult Basic Education Grants to States

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant

Education for the Disadvantaged

Grants to Local Educational Agencies (Title I-A)

Title I Migrant Education Program

Higher Education — Institutional Aid and Developing Institutions

Federal Work-Study

Federal TRIO Programs

Federal Pell Grants

Education for Homeless Children and Youth

21st Century Community Learning Centers

Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR-UP)

Child Support Enforcement

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) (social services)

Community Services Block Grant

Child Care and Development Fund

Head Start HHS

Developmental Disabilities Support and Advocacy Grants

Foster Care

Adoption Assistance

Social Services Block Grant

Chafee Foster Care Independence Program

Emergency Food and Shelter Program

Legal Services Corporation

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (employment and training component)

Senior Community Service Employment Program

Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Adult Activities

Social Services and Targeted Assistance for Refugees

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) (employment and training)

Foster Grandparents

Job Corps

Grants to States for Low-Income Housing in Lieu of Low-Income Housing Credit Allocations

Tax Credit Assistance Program

Older Americans Act Grants for Supportive Services and Senior Centers

Older Americans Act Family Caregiver Program

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