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How much is a monthly welfare check?

The United States has six major welfare programs that are designed to ensure that basic needs such as food, housing and health for Americans are met.

Receiving additional benefits on top of Social Security disability

When individuals fall on hard times, there exist programs to help people to cope with financial stress and ensure that basic needs such as food, housing and health are met. The amount that recipients get and the requirements to qualify for the various programs available are not uniform across the United States which leads to confusion.

There is also confusion about what exactly is welfare. Medicare, Social Security, unemployment insurance, and worker’s compensation are part of the welfare state but are “entitlements” that workers and their employers contribute toward through payroll taxes. Here’s a look at programs that are financed through the government coffers.

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The average monthly welfare check depends on where you live

There is much confusion around the welfare programs that exist in the United States. Although many receive federal funding they are administered by state and local governments, which in turn may have their own programs. To add to this, they may go by different names in different states.

There exist six major welfare programs that Americans can lean on during rough periods in their lives. Housing assistance, Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (SNAP), Supplemental Security Income and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) as well as the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Due to the varied cost of living levels across the US, there is no "one rule fits all." The requirements to qualify vary, depending on the poverty line and the minimum acceptable levels in a particular state. Factors such as the family unit's size, current income levels, or an assessed disability are used to determine the amount of financial support a recipient is eligible for.

Each state can also set additional requisites to receive aid such as a work or school requirement. In most cases, people who use welfare will receive a biweekly or monthly payment, but it can also come in the form of a voucher or service.

Housing Assistance

There are two main rental assistance programs through which the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) helps struggling seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, and working families who are in need of shelter to keep a roof over their heads; Housing Choice Vouchers, which helps recipients afford rental units they find in the private market, and the Public Housing Program. The price of renting a home varies widely across the US but in 2019 the average rent, including utilities, was $1,100 a month.


Medicaid is a health insurance program that is funded jointly by the federal government and states which administer the program according to federal requirements. It provides health coverage to eligible low-income adults, children, pregnant women, elderly adults and people with disabilities.

According to 2019 data from Medicaid the average amount spent across the US per American covered was $8,436, but the amount varies depending on the state and health conditions of the enrolee.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (SNAP)

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is managed by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The program is designed to supplement the food budget of low-income families to ensure that they can afford to purchase healthy food and avoid periods of food instability. According to USDA data as of January 7, 2022, SNAP paid on average $243.42 per person and $460.64 per household.

Supplemental Security Income

The Social Security Administration (SSA) administers Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a need-based federal aid program designed to help some groups cover basic expenses for food and shelter. Unlike Social Security, which is an entitlement program that workers pay into, SSI does not have these requirements. SSI is means-tested, which means that there are no contribution or labor requirements and it is distributed on the basis of need.

Those between the age of eighteen and sixty-four are the largest group who receive SSI benefits and their average monthly payment stood at $617 in December 2021.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

Through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, the federal government provides funds to states to provide families with financial assistance and related support services. State-administered programs may include childcare assistance, job preparation, and work assistance.

Federal funds cannot be used to provide a family that includes an adult recipient with cash assistance for no more than 60 months. Depending on hardship, states can exceed the 60-month limit for up to 20 percent of their caseload. However, 21 states have shorter time limits. The average TANF support for a single-parent family with two children is about $418 per month.

Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)

The Earned Income Tax Credit is a refundable tax credit that is targeted at low- and moderate-income workers. It reduces the amount of taxes filers owe, or can even be collected as a refund. According to the IRS, in 2021 the average worker nationwide who claimed the EITC on their 2020 tax return received about $2,411.


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