Public Welfare Law provides comprehensive coverage of all aspects of public benefit law. Its heaviest emphasis is on AFDC/TANF, food stamps/SNAP, Medicaid, Social Security/SSI, and unemployment compensation. It also includes both main cases and extensive note materials on a wide range of other programs, including public housing, Section 8, the Low-Income Housing Credit, LIHEAP, school meals, WIC, disaster assistance, trade adjustment assistance, foster care, veterans’ pensions, Black Lung disability, survivors’ insurance, general assistance, and lifeline communications, among others.

To help students develop transferable analytic skills, it is organized by concept rather than by program, with each conceptual chapter drawing illustrations from multiple programs. Thus, for example, chapters cover means testing, program administration, federalism, the differences between capped and open-ended programs, the amount of benefits and the form in which they are provided, work, other behavioral rules, interactions with immigration law, and challenges facing people with disabilities. Each chapter then draws on examples from multiple programs, allowing students to see both commonalities and critical differences. Copious notes, discussion questions, and problems in each section facilitate moving class discussion in many different directions.

The book can support a substantive course or seminar in public benefits law or the classroom component of a clinic or practicum. It includes both practical materials (e.g., a step-by-step guide to calculating SNAP and EITC eligibility and benefits, cases on each of the five steps of the SSDI/SSI disability determination process) and theoretical and policy insights from across the political spectrum. Although its emphasis is on law, it also acquaints students with important social scientists such as William Julius Wilson, Kathryn Edin, Frances Fox Piven, and Richard Cloward and with research organizations such as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. It also includes the voices of recipients of public benefits.

The book is also designed to support a course in legislation and regulation. To this end, cases and materials were selected to present crucial aspects of administrative law (e.g., rule-making, FOIA, FACA, Chevron deference, arbitrary and capricious review, and procedural due process), major approaches to statutory interpretation, economic analysis of agency behavior and regulatory choices, public choice, privatization, and institutional reform litigation.


Imprint: Foundation Press
Series: University Casebook Series
Publication Date: 12/16/2016

David A. Super, Georgetown University Law Center

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