Welfare, direct government aid to the needy. In the United States various programs, operated by the social security office and by state and local governments, provide aid to the handicapped, aged, poor, and unemployed. Benefits to the aged are more-or-less standardized nationally, but the form of, amount of, and qualifications for other benefits differ from state to state. Benefits fall under many programs, such as veterans' aid and workmen's compensation. All welfare programs are linked to programs that do not give direct financial assistance, such as housing, food stamps, and medical aid. The Reagan administration made significant cuts in federal welfare programs.