Public Assistance Law and Legal Definition

Public assistance programs are available at the federal and state levels to provide a safety net for disadvantaged groups who lack the resources to provide basic necessities for themselves and their families. Federally assisted welfare programs are administered, in part at least, by the states electing to participate in one or more of the programs.Welfare programs are administered at the local level, often by counties, under administrative programs generally set up by state statute. State statutes define eligibility for assistance and vary widely from state to state.

Some of the categories of public assistance provided for in the federal Social Security Act include aid to families with dependent children and other child welfare services, food programs, such as that under the Food Stamp Act, aid to the aged, blind and disabled, and medical assistance programs. To qualify for federal assistance under such a program, a state must enact legislation and establish plans that follow certain federal guidelines and requirements. The federal Food Stamp Act provides for qualified retail food stores and wholesale food businesses to participate in the acceptance and redemption of food coupons. In order to participate in the program, the business must file an application with the Food and Nutrition Service in such form as the FNS prescribes.