Definitions for "Mandatory Spending"
Authorized by permanent law (e.g. Social Security). The President and Congress can change the law to change the level of spending on mandatory programs, but they are not required to.
Federal spending is either discretionary or mandatory. Mandatory spending is authorized by Congress by setting out eligibility or other criteria. Examples of mandatory spending include Social Security and interest payments on the debt.
Outlays generally not controllable through the congressional appropriation process. Mandatory amounts are budget authority or outlays that cannot be increased or decreased in a given year without a change in substantive law. Entitlement programs (e.g., food stamps, Medicare, veterans' pensions) are chief examples of mandatory programs, whereby Congress controls spending indirectly, by defining eligibility and setting benefit payment rules, rather than directly through the appropriation process. With regard to the federal-aid highway program, mandatory spending refers to outlays resulting from obligations of contract authority programs not subject to annual obligation limitations, such as Minimum Allocation, Emergency Relief, and Demonstration Project spending.
Funding that is not determined on an annual basis, but is rather determined by previously established laws.