Chapter 10: Social Services Block Grant

Issues: Social Security Block Grants

The SSBG has received annual appropriations of $1.7 billion in every year since FY2002. However, since FY2013, the appropriated funding level for the SSBG has been reduced each year due to budget sequestration. (Sequestration is a spending reduction process under which budgetary resources are canceled to enforce budget policy goals.) In addition to funding from annual appropriations, the SSBG has occasionally received supplemental appropriations, most recently to support states in responding to the effects of Hurricane Sandy in 2013, natural disasters in 2008, and the Gulf Coast hurricanes of 2005.

At the federal level, the SSBG is administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Legislation amending title XX is typically reported by the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee.

Title XX of the Social Security Act was created in 1975 (P.L. 93-647); however, it was the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981 (P.L. 97-35) that amended title XX to establish a Block Grant to States for Social Services. More recently, health reform legislation enacted in March 2010 (P.L. 111-148) inserted a new subtitle on elder justice into title XX, which was itself re-titled as Block Grants to States for Social Services and Elder Justice. (Under this new law, the SSBG is authorized in subtitle A of title XX, while the elder justice provisions are contained in subtitle B of title XX.) The health reform law also amended subtitle A of title XX to establish two demonstration projects to address the workforce needs of health care professionals and a new competitive grant program to support the early detection of medical conditions related to environmental health hazards. These other components of title XX are not addressed here; the purpose of this chapter of the Green Book is to provide an overview of the SSBG.

Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports

For more programmatic information, please see reports published by the Congressional Research Service.

CRS works exclusively for the United States Congress, providing policy and legal analysis to Committees and Members of both the House and Senate, regardless of party affiliation.

Additional Tables and Figures

Figure 10-1. SSBG Annual Appropriations in Nominal and Constant FY2018 Dollars, FY1982-FY2018

Figure 10-2. SSBG Expenditures by Selected Spending Categories, FY2015

Table 10-1. SSBG Funding Levels in Nomincal and Constant FY2018 Dollars, FY1982-FY2018

Table 10-2. SSBG Allocations by State and Territory, Selected Fiscal Years 1998-2018

Table 10-3. Number of States Offering Selected Services, Fiscal Years 1999-2015

Table 10-4. Use of SSBG Funds by Expenditure Category, Fiscal Years 2001-2015

Legislative History

The following provides a legislative history of the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) from the prior Green Book through most of the 115th Congress. For prior history, please see prior editions of the Green Book.

The annual appropriations acts for FY2017 (P.L. 115-31) and FY2018 (P.L. 115-141) maintained the SSBG appropriation at $1.7 billion. However, this amount was reduced in both years due to sequestration, with final funding levels totaling $1.583 billion in FY2017 and $1.588 billion in FY2018.  The annual appropriations acts maintained the 10% TANF transfer authority for states.


This page was prepared October 2018 for the 2018 version of the House Ways and Means Committee Green Book.