Codes and Frequencies
For all persons, GOTWELF indicates if, at any time during the month prior to the interview (1990-1996) or during the last calendar year (1997 forward), the person received any government assistance payments because of low income. Respondents were instructed not to include food stamps, SSI, energy assistance, or medical assistance payments.
From 1993 to 1996, this question was not asked of persons living in single-person or married-couple households whose annual income was $20,000 or more. Please refer to the Universe and Comparability tabs for more detailed information on changes in the universe across survey years.
From 1990 to 1996, GOTWELF is part of the Family Resources supplement that provides information on individuals' health benefits, amount of coverage and income received from employment, welfare benefits, public assistance, and savings. Starting in 1997, this variable is part of the core person questionnaire.
Questions in the Family Resources supplement are different from those in the core survey in terms of the content and the treatment of missing data. Questions in the Family Resources were normally asked of the month prior to the interview while the core survey asked of the last calendar year. All missing data in the Family Resources supplement were imputed by NHIS. Users can refer to the imputation flag variable QINCWELF to identify persons with imputed data.
This variable is comparable within samples from 1990 to 1992, from 1993 to 1996, and from 1997 forward.
In order to compare values of GOTWELF across all samples from 1990 to 1996, users should exclude single-person households and married-couple households whose annual income is more than $20,000 (use INCFAMR82ON).
Government assistance program names changed between samples, and differ from state to state. For 1997, the question refers to Welfare, Aid for Families with Dependent Children, or General Assistance. For 1998 and 1999, the question gives examples such as Welfare or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. From 2000 forward, the question specifically asks whether the person received cash assistance from a state or county welfare program; the names given as examples vary from state to state.
- 1990-1992: All persons.
- 1993: All persons in quarters 3 and 4 who do not live in single or married-couple households whose annual income is $20,000+
- 1994-1996: All persons who do not live in single or married-couple households whose annual income is $20,000+
- 1997-2018: All persons.