Means-Tested Programs: Determining Financial Eligibility Is Cumbersome and Can Be Simplified

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A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "About 80 means-tested federal programs assisted low-income people in 1998. GAO reviewed 11 programs that assisted families and individuals with income, food, medical assistance, and housing. Despite substantial overlap in the populations they serve, the 11 programs varied significantly in their financial eligibility rules. At the most basic level, the dollar levels of the income limits--the maximum amounts of income an applicant can have and still be eligible for a program--vary across programs. Beyond this, differences exist in the income rules, such as whose income and ... continued below

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United States. General Accounting Office. November 2, 2001.

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Description

A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "About 80 means-tested federal programs assisted low-income people in 1998. GAO reviewed 11 programs that assisted families and individuals with income, food, medical assistance, and housing. Despite substantial overlap in the populations they serve, the 11 programs varied significantly in their financial eligibility rules. At the most basic level, the dollar levels of the income limits--the maximum amounts of income an applicant can have and still be eligible for a program--vary across programs. Beyond this, differences exist in the income rules, such as whose income and what types of income are counted. The variations and complexity of the federal financial eligibility rules, along with other factors, have led to processes that are often duplicative and cumbersome for both caseworkers and applicants. Overall, federal, state, and local entities have made little progress in simplifying or coordinating eligibility determination processes. States realigned some of the financial rules, but only to a limited extent. Another approach uses computer systems to establish joint eligibility determination processes that a single caseworker can administer. Efforts to simplify or better coordinate eligibility determination processes confront many obstacles, including restrictive federal program statutes and regulations. In addition, program costs may rise if financial eligibility rules are changed."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • November 2, 2001

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  • June 11, 2014, 5:03 a.m.

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United States. General Accounting Office. Means-Tested Programs: Determining Financial Eligibility Is Cumbersome and Can Be Simplified, report, November 2, 2001; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc294097/: accessed September 24, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.