One in Five Americans Participates in Government Assistance Programs

One in five Americans participates in government assistance programs each month, according to the most recent data released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

“Approximately 52.2 million (or 21.3 percent) people in the U.S. participated in major means-tested government assistance programs each month in 2012,” according to the Census Bureau’s report.

Means-tested programs include Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), otherwise known as food stamps, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and General Assistance (GA).

The number of beneficiaries of these means-tested programs has increased significantly over the last decade. According to the Census, in 2004 there were nearly 42 million monthly recipients of these programs. Between that year and 2012, monthly participation increased by 24.9 percent.

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