Public Assistance | GiveWell

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Public Assistance

In order to determine the impact that a charity has on clients' lives, we seek a sense of clients' incomes both before and after entering the program. Few of our applicants gave us direct information on the former, but many gave information on how many of their clients receive public assistance, as well as how their incomes compare to the federal poverty line. This page clarifies the terms of the poverty line and public assistance.
  • The federal poverty line is a direct function of family income and family size. It is set at $10,830 for a single person household; for each additional person in the household, the line rises by $3,740.1 According to our cost of living analysis, the point at which someone can reasonably start to be called "self-supporting" is around 200% of the Poverty Line.
  • Food stamps are available to people with net income at or below the federal poverty line and gross income at or below 130% of the poverty line.2 (Gross income is income before various deductions, including a 20% deduction for earned income, a standard deduction of $141 for household sizes of 1 to 3 and $153 for a household size of four, and a $35 deduction for elderly medical care; full details are available here.)
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is temporary cash assistance which is available to families based on state-specific requirements. These requirements can be both nonfinancial (for example, requiring the family to have a child) and financial.3 For New York, the earnings limit for a 3-person single-parent household was $8,004 per year.4
  • SSD/SSI refers to benefits paid to disabled workers under the age of 65. See this link for details.
  • Public Housing (Section 8): In order to be eligible for public housing in New York City, applicants must earn less than this amount, which varies by family size but is roughly 180% of the Poverty Line for families of 3-5 people.
  • 1. accessed 11/24/09
  • 2. accessed 11/24/09
  • 3. accessed 11/24/09
  • 4. accessed 11/24/09
  • Medicaid is medical insurance available to families that meet certain income and asset requirements. Net income limits appear to be slightly below Poverty Line levels. accessed 11/24/09