Karen E. Lynch
Specialist in Social
The Social Services
Block Grant (SSBG) is a flexible source of funds that states use to support a wide
variety of social services activities. States have broad discretion over the
use of these funds. In FY2009, the most recent year for which expenditure
data are available, the largest expenditures for services under the SSBG
were for child care, foster care, and special services for the disabled.
The FY2012 Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 2055, P.L. 112-74) provided
$1.7 billion for the SSBG in FY2012, the same level of funding as had been
requested in the FY2012 President’s Budget. This is also the same level of
annually appropriated funding that the SSBG has received in every year
since FY2002. Since FY2001, annual appropriations for the SSBG have included a provision
stipulating that states may transfer up to 10% of their Temporary Assistance
for Needy Families (TANF) block grants to the SSBG. In addition to funding
from annual appropriations, the SSBG received supplemental appropriations
in FY2006 and FY2009 for necessary expenses resulting from natural
In February 2012, the Obama Administration released its FY2013 budget, which
proposed to maintain annual SSBG funding at $1.7 billion in FY2013. By
contrast, the committee report (H.Rept. 112-421) accompanying the
House-passed concurrent resolution on the FY2013 budget (H.Con.Res. 112)
has recommended eliminating the SSBG in FY2013. In its critique of the SSBG,
the committee report calls the SSBG a “duplicative” funding stream with “no
evidence” of effectiveness. Critics of the proposal to eliminate the SSBG,
such as the National Conference of State Legislatures, have argued that
the block grant’s flexibility allows states to address the needs of
vulnerable populations and respond to local concerns.
On April 18, 2012, the House Committee on Ways and Means marked up legislation
to comply with a reconciliation directive included in Section 201 of the
House-passed budget resolution for FY2013 (H.Con.Res. 112). The
legislation includes a proposal, which was passed (22-14) by the committee,
to repeal the SSBG. The legislation was transmitted to the House Committee on
the Budget for inclusion in a larger reconciliation bill. On May 7, 2012,
the House Committee on the Budget voted (21-9) to approve the Sequester
Replacement Reconciliation Act of 2012, which is the reconciliation
package that includes the proposal to repeal the SSBG.
Under current law, the SSBG is permanently authorized in Title XX of the Social
Security Act (SSA). The 111th Congress amended Title XX of the SSA in the
health care reform legislation signed into law by President Obama on March
23, 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA; P.L.
111-148). This law 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. The health reform law also amended Title XX by establishing
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. The purpose of this
report is to provide background and funding information about the SSBG; the
report does not provide detailed information on other programs authorized
within Title XX of the SSA.
Date of Report: May 8, 2012
Number of Pages: 28
Order Number: 94-953
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