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Social welfare

In 2001, the average weekly unemployment benefit was $163.57. Average monthly participation in the food stamp program in FY2002 comprised 443,547 persons (173,295 households). The average monthly benefit was $78.42, and the sum total of benefits paid in FY2002 was $417,376,930.

With the enactment of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, the US government has changed the form and regulations for many of its social welfare programs. Most significantly, it replaces Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), an open-ended entitlement program, with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), a limited system of assistance funded largely through federal block grants. The reform act also impacts the food stamp program, the Supplemental Security Income program, and the child nutrition program. The law took effect on 1 July 1997 and provided $16.38 billion in block grants for fiscal years 1997–2002. The grants were to be divided among the states based on an equation involving the numbers of former AFDC recipients in each state. Reauthorization of the 1996 social welfare legislation, scheduled for 2002, was delayed, and the original law had been extended three times as of July 2003, with the most recent extension running through September 2003. Alabama's TANF program is called the Family Assistance Program (FA). In June 2000 the state had 55,168 welfare recipients. State expenditures on the TANF program in FY2002 totaled $38,686,168.

In December 2001, Social Security benefits were paid to 841,730 Alabamians. This number included 465,860 retired workers, 103,210 widows and widowers, 129,880 disabled workers, 51,080 spouses, and 91,700 children. Social Security beneficiaries represented 18.8% of the total state population and 92.7% of the state's population age 65 and older. Retired workers (excluding persons with special benefits) received an average monthly payment of $827; widows and widowers, $743; disabled workers, $784; and spouses, $411. Payments for children of retired workers averaged $398 per month; children of deceased workers, $541; and children of disabled workers, $230.

Federal Supplemental Security Income payments in December 2001 went to 161,521 Alabama residents, averaging $343 a month.