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2021 Financial Condition Report For Fiscal Year Ended March 31, 2021
Public Assistance Recipients Increase for the First Time in Five Years
Family Assistance (FA) provides up to 60 months of cash assistance to eligible needy families; Safety Net Assistance (SNA) provides cash or non-cash assistance to eligible single adults, childless couples, persons who have exceeded the 60-month limit on Family Assistance, children living apart from adult relatives and certain other individuals. SNA is largely funded by the State and the counties, while FA is funded by the federal government. “Public assistance” as discussed in this report includes both programs; almost 72 percent of public assistance expenditures are in the SNA program.
For SFY 2020-21, the average monthly number of public assistance recipients in the State increased by 20,816 (4.5 percent) to 489,086.
The number of FA recipients decreased for the seventh year in a row, by less than 1 percent, bringing the cumulative decline over the five-year period to 32.2 percent. In contrast, SNA recipients increased for the first time in four years, by 7.1 percent, largely due to growth in New York City.
Spending for Public Assistance Ticks Up for the First Time in Three Years
Public assistance spending increased in SFY 2020-21 by $10.6 million (0.5 percent), compared to the previous year mainly because of an increase in SNA expenditures in New York City.
SNA expenditures, which accounted for over two-thirds (71.7 percent) of total public assistance spending in SFY 2020-21, increased by $38.9 million (2.7 percent), compared to the prior year.
Compared to the prior year, FA expenditures in New York State decreased by $28.3 million (4.6 percent).
SNAP Recipients and Spending Surge During Pandemic Recession
The number of recipients in the State’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) increased for the first time in seven years in SFY 2020-21 due to the loss of jobs and income during the pandemic-induced recession. SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, is funded by the federal government.
Compared to the prior year, the average monthly number of recipients of SNAP in New York State increased by 158,747 (6.1 percent) to over 2.7 million.
Compared to the prior year, SNAP disbursements in New York State increased by $2.1 billion (49.4 percent) to $6.4 billion.
Disbursements for SNAP rose for the first time in eight years, largely due to the increase in recipients, a 15 percent increase in normal benefit levels authorized by federal COVID legislation, and the issuance of emergency supplemental benefits to households not already receiving the maximum benefit during the public health emergency.
SSI Recipients Decrease for Fifth Consecutive Year; Disbursements Drop Below $5 Billion
The number of recipients of Supplementary Security Income (SSI)—a State- and federally-funded program for the aged, blind and disabled with little or no income and resources—decreased by 15,114 (2.2 percent) to 659,346 in SFY 2020-21.
Compared to the prior year, SSI disbursements in the State decreased by $103.7 million (2.1 percent) to $4.9 billion. Of this amount, the federal government contributed nearly $4.4 billion, a decrease of $84.7 million (1.9 percent) compared to the prior year. State expenditures totaled $573.1 million, a decrease of $19.1 million (3.2 percent) compared to the prior year.