The True Cost of Welfare
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Cash assistance — what most people think of as welfare — makes up a small portion of DHS’ state general funds. Most benefits overseen by the department are not cash benefits. The vast majority of departmental spending provides health care, services to seniors and individuals with disabilities, and services to children and families throughout Pennsylvania.

DHS budget chart



  • Health care accounts for $4.16 billion
  • Long-term services accounts for $2.66 billion
  • Intellectual disability services accounts for $2.01 billion
  • Children, youth, and families account for $1.29 billion
  • Mental health and substance abuse services account for $835 million
  • Administration costs account for $497 million
  • Early education and learning accounts for $472 million
  • Other services account for $215 million
CASH ASSISTANCE provided to low-income
families accounts for $6 million, or less than
.05 percent of total DHS state general funds.
*The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Low-Income Home
Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) are federally funded and are not cash benefits.



Numbers are from Pennsylvania Department of Human Services 2018-19 General Fund Budget Request.
 Last updated July 18, 2018.