Student's Guide to Landmark Congressional Laws on Social Security and Welfare

By Steven G. Livingston | Go to book overview

Glossary

AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children). Originally called Aid to Dependent Children (Title IV of the Social Security Act of 1935), AFDC was the primary American low-income welfare program until Congress terminated it in 1996. It has been replaced by the TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) program.

Appropriations (appropriation bill). A congressional act to designate a specified sum of money from a fund of the United States Treasury to pay for an authorized public program. All government programs that need federal funds with which to operate must have funds appropriated for them.

Authorization (authorization bill). A congressional act that establishes or continues an agency or program, and provides it with the legal authority to operate.

Block Grant. Monies distributed by the federal government to the states under broad policy categories. The states then use the monies, largely as they see fit, to advance the designated policy.

COLA (Cost-of-Living Adjustment). An annual increase made in the benefits of many social security and welfare programs to counter the effects of inflation. Generally the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is used to make this adjustment.

Conference Committee. A congressional committee composed of senators and representatives who resolve the differences between legislation as it was passed in the Senate and in the House. The resulting bill is then returned to both houses of Congress for their approval.

CPI (Consumer Price Index). Compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor, the CPI is a compilation of the cost of a “basket” of goods and services purchased by a typical urban resident. It is used as a measure of the inflation rate in the United States. Many programs with COLAs rely on the CPI.

Early Retirement. Under the Social Security Act, qualified individuals may currently elect to begin receiving benefits at the age of sixty-two. However, individuals who choose early retirement receive smaller monthly benefits than if they had continued to work until their full retirement age.

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