public assistance (uncountable)

  1. (law, public policy) Payment made to disadvantaged persons by government in order to alleviate the burdens of poverty, unemployment, disability, old age, etc.
    • 1820, James Fenimore Cooper, Precaution, ch. 15:
      Suddenly thrown on the world, with a wife and four children, with but the wages of a week for his and their support, they had travelled thus far on the way to a neighboring parish, where he said he had a right to, and must seek, public assistance.
    • 1992 May 25, Thomas Sancton et al., "How to Get America Off the Dole," Time:
      Bush has made public assistance—specifically welfare—a constant target of his campaign rhetoric.
    • 2012 Feb. 2, John Otis, "The Neediest Cases: Long After Southern Storm, Still Looking for New Home," New York Times (retrieved 14 Oct 2012):
      She also signed up for public assistance, and gets $356 a month and $388 in food stamps.