Administrative Burden

Administrative Burden

Policymaking by Other Means

Pamela Herd, Donald P. Moynihan

Policies targeted toward the poor are more likely to be burdensome relative to universal policies that all use. Relative to the near 100 percent take-up for more universal programs, such as Social Security and Medicare, take-up rates by eligible beneficiaries of means-tested programs typically aimed at poor people in the United States are much lower: 40 to 60 percent for Supplemental Social Insurance, about 65 percent for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, frequently referred to as food stamps), 30 to 60 percent of Unemployment Insurance benefits, about 50 to 70 percent for Medicaid. 19 For the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a reimbursable tax credit tied to work for low-income earners, the take-up rate is about 80 percent. 20 Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) had an estimated take-up rate of between 77 to 86 percent. Participation rates declined dramatically after 1990s welfare reform. Its successor, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), has a much lower take-up rate, between 42 to 52 percent.

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