The Policy Rules Database is a repository that allows for research on public assistance programs and tax policies and helps users model benefits cliffs on career pathways.

The public assistance programs and tax credits that support workforce participation in the United States are made up of a patchwork of policies, implemented and administered at the federal, state, and local levels. These programs are designed separately from each other and they have their own unique structures and terminology.

The primary purpose of the Policy Rules Database is to simplify the interpretation of all programs by creating a common structure and a common terminology. The Policy Rules Database culls eligibility information into one simple-to-use database that describes policy rules in plain English and boils the complex program design down to a common set of logical or numeric fields.

Public Assistance Programs included in the Policy Rules Database

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), National School Breakfast and Lunch Programs (NSBP & NSLP), Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8), Child Care and Development Fund Subsidies (CCDF), Head Start, Medicaid/Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), health insurance marketplace subsidies, Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

Taxes and Tax Credits Included in the Policy Rules Database

Federal personal income tax, state personal income tax, Federal Insurance Contribution Tax Act (FICA), state sales tax, federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), federal Child Tax Credit (CTC), state Child Tax Credit (CTC), federal Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC), state Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit

Download the Policy Rules Database Technical Manual Adobe PDF file format

Access the Policy Rules Database on GitHub

Benefits Cliffs across the United States

To simplify the task of visualizing and understanding the U.S. social safety net, we have created the Policy Rules Database (PRD) Dashboard, a simple-to-use visualization tool that shows how all existing public assistance programs and tax credits come together to support any type of family in any location in the United States.

The PRD Dashboard shows how the dollar value and composition of public assistance changes with increases in income. It can be used to identify when wage gains make a family worse off or no better off financially than before the wage increase. Using dropdown menus, users can select any public assistance program, location, and family type and visualize how benefits value changes with income.

See this article for an example of how to use the PRD Dashboard.

screenshot of Policy Rules Database


The Policy Rules Database is the result of a collaborative effort between the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and the National Center for Children in Poverty.Off-site link

logo for the National Center for Children in Poverty