University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Employment and Training Institute

Analysis of Food Stamp and Medical Assistance Caseload Reductions in Milwaukee County: 1995-1999

by John Pawasarat, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Employment and Training Institute, January 2000

The report has been prepared for Milwaukee County to examine the changes in public assistance caseloads in the county for food stamps, medical assistance and AFDC cases. Published monthly caseload data and client caseload records for selected months are used to track caseload declines and to attempt to explain how the caseload has changed for both families and individuals since December 1995. A previous study was used to track earnings and public assistance for the December 1995 AFDC population through December 1996. This analysis did not use wage match data but does use selected monthly welfare files to track cases through September 1999. Funding support for this study was provided in part by the Helen Bader Foundation.


Caseload Declines Were Sharpest Prior to W-2

  • Milwaukee County AFDC caseloads stayed at or above the 35,000 level for the period 1986 through 1995 during which time caseloads in the balance of the state dropped rapidly. During 1996 and 1997 the county's AFDC caseload began declining rapidly, dropping 41 percent to 21,844 by September 1997, attributable in large part to a heavily funded Pay for Performance initiative which placed unprecedented scrutiny and requirements on new and existing AFDC cases. Under W-2, cases continued to decline but at a lower rate than under Pay for Performance. As of September 1999, 6,051 families received a W-2 payment, 3,046 were in Kinship Care, and 2,837 received an SSI Caretaker Supplement payment.

  • Most of the decline in food stamp and medical assistance caseloads took place prior to W-2 as well. Food stamp cases declined by 25 percent from December 1995 to October 1997, and medical assistance cases declined by 13 percent. The number of cases on both medical assistance and food stamp stabilized during W-2.

  • The number of individuals with medical assistance coverage has declined at a sharper rate than the 13 percent decline in caseloads. From December 1995 to October 1997, the number of adults on medical assistance declined by 25 percent and the number of children by 17 percent.

Milwaukee County AFDC/W-2 Cases: 1996-99
AFDC, W-2, Kinship Care and SSI Head Cases: 1996-1999
Child and Adults on Food Stamps and MA

Follow-up on the December 1995 Public Assistance Population

Rentention of AFDC/FS/MA Cases

Public Assistance Status of Milwaukee County Residents

The "Working Poor" and Public Assistance

Reasons for Declines in Food Stamps and Medical Assistance in Milwaukee County

Retention and Addition of Persons on Food Stamps
Retention and Addition of Persons on Medical Assistance

Policy Issues to Consider

The medical assistance and food stamp populations could be greatly increased to include more eligible uncovered individuals through the following policy initiatives:


Table of Contents

Summary (above)

  1. Overview of Food Stamp, MA and Public Assistance Caseload Changes in Milwaukee County: 1996-1999

  2. The Decreasing Use of Food Stamps by the Working Poor

  3. Reasons for Declines in Food Stamp Cases

  4. Reasons for Declines in the Medical Assistance Caseload

  5. Follow-Up of Cases Receiving Food Stamps in December 1995

  6. Analysis of Individuals Receiving Public Assistance in Milwaukee County

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