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What support payments are there in each state? Full list

Welfare support programs vary widely across the US, often funded with federal dollars they are administered at the state and local level. Here’s a look…

Welfare support programs vary widely across the US, often funded with federal dollars they are administered at the state and local level. Here’s a look…

For those who fall on hard times, there exist a number of programs to help deal with the financial stress and ensure that their basic needs are met. In the US there are six major welfare programs along with four entitlement programs.

The difference between welfare and entitlement programs is that for the latter workers and their employers contribute toward future benefits through payroll taxes. Those contributions determine the amount of aid a beneficiary will receive. Eligibility to participate in welfare programs is determined by several factors but primarily income and benefits vary widely from state to state.

Also see:

Contributory entitlement programs in the US

Medicare, Social Security, unemployment insurance, and worker’s compensation are funded through employer and employee contributions. Original Medicare and Social Security Benefits are federal programs and uniform across the US. Whereas unemployment insurance and worker’s compensation are handled at the state level and can vary widely.


Original Medicare is the same everywhere in the US, but that is not true for Medicare Advantage. When an individual turns 65 they are eligible to sign up for Medicare, there may be penalties for enrolling later. They can choose to purchase Original Medicare or a private Medicare Advantage plan. Medicare Advantage plans are offered regionally and fall under local jurisdiction and regulations, so the cost and coverage can vary from state to state.

Social Security benefits

The Social Security Administration oversees the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program, best known for providing retirement benefits to seniors, but as the name indicates, it also provides survivor benefits and disability income. Each of the three programs has different requirements and number of credits needed in order to claim the monthly income support.

Although benefit amounts are set by the SSA, some states tax benefits reducing the amount that recipients can count on each month.

Unemployment insurance

Unemployment insurance is financed through both state and federal unemployment taxes on employers. The federal government ensures that all states provide basic protections for eligible workers but imposes minimal requirements. States can choose the eligibility criteria, such as the type and duration of prior employment.

The rate that benefits replace wages for the unemployed vary widely from state to state. So too does the number of weeks of unemployment compensation but most states offer 26 weeks of regular unemployment compensation.

Worker’s compensation or Worker’s Comp

Worker’s compensation, commonly referred to as Worker’s Comp, is not the same as disability insurance that is paid through the SSA. Employers in every state but Texas are required by the government to purchase insurance that provides financial benefits, medical benefits or both to workers in the event that an employee becomes ill or injured while on the job or as a result of the work environment.

The program is managed by the states which means that the benefits workers are entitled to vary greatly from state to state.

Non-contributory welfare programs in the US

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. These include 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.

The programs may go by different names in different states and due to the different cost of living levels across the US, there is no "one rule fits all." The requirements to qualify vary and each state can also set additional requisites to receive aid. As with other non-federally administered programs the amount a recipient can receive each month can be vastly different.

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 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.


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.

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.

What is the average SNAP benefit in each state?

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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. SSI is means-tested, which means that there are no contribution or labor requirements and it is distributed on the basis of need.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

Through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, the federal government gives 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.

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. Several states have their owe EITC that residents can claim on their state income tax returns.