Federal Benefit Programs

A Profile Gao ID: HRD-86-14 October 17, 1985

This staff study provides an overview of the federal benefit programs that serve individuals directly and includes: (1) an inventory; (2) program financial data; (3) program descriptions; and (4) information on congressional committee program responsibility.

GAO found that the 150 benefit programs provide cash and noncash assistance to persons who demonstrate need or otherwise qualify for benefits as a result of contributions made during employment or military service. About 49 percent of the federal budget was obligated to these programs in fiscal year (FY) 1983. Of the 150 programs, 95 were classified as needs-based and provided cash and in-kind benefits to individuals who neither financially contributed to the programs nor rendered service in return for the benefits received. The remaining programs were classified as insurance-based programs which provided benefits to individuals who financially contributed to the programs, on whose behalf contributions were made, or who served in the military. Of the 150 programs, 42 programs had a total obligation of $379 billion for FY 1983 and an estimated total obligation of $435 billion for FY 1986. These 42 programs accounted for more than 92 percent of the total FY 1983 obligations of the programs in the inventory.

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