Federal Spending for Means-Tested Programs, 2007 to 2027

CBO projects that, if current laws generally remained unchanged, federal outlays for mandatory means-tested programs (programs and tax credits that provide cash payments or other assistance to people with relatively low income or few assets) would grow over the next decade at an average annual rate of 4.3 percent, whereas spending for mandatory non–means-tested programs would grow at an average annual rate of 6.0 percent. Among the mandatory programs, the largest means-tested ones are Medicaid, the earned income and child tax credits (which are refundable), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and Supplemental Security Income. The largest non–means-tested ones are Social Security, most of Medicare, and civilian and military retirement programs.

A pair of tables in this short report show CBO’s baseline projections for mandatory means-tested programs over the 2017–2027 period and historical spending for those programs.

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