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Notice

Annual Update of the HHS Poverty Guidelines

Action

Notice.

Summary

This notice provides an update of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) poverty guidelines to account for last calendar year's increase in prices as measured by the Consumer Price Index.

 

Table of Contents Back to Top

Tables Back to Top

DATES: Back to Top

Effective Date: Date of publication, unless an office administering a program using the guidelines specifies a different effective date for that particular program.

ADDRESSES: Back to Top

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, Room 404E, Humphrey Building, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, DC 20201.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Back to Top

For information about how the guidelines are used or how income is defined in a particular program, contact the Federal, state, or local office that is responsible for that program. For information about poverty figures for immigration forms, the Hill-Burton Uncompensated Services Program, and the number of people in poverty, use the specific telephone numbers and addresses given below.

For general questions about the poverty guidelines themselves, contact Kendall Swenson or Gordon Fisher, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, Room 404E, Humphrey Building, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, DC 20201—telephone: (202) 690-7507—or visit http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/.

For information about the percentage multiple of the poverty guidelines to be used on immigration forms such as USCIS Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, contact U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at 1-(800) 375-5283.

For information about the Hill-Burton Uncompensated Services Program (free or reduced-fee health care services at certain hospitals and other facilities for persons meeting eligibility criteria involving the poverty guidelines), contact the Office of the Director, Division of Health Facilities, Health Resources and Services Administration, HHS, Room 10-105, Parklawn Building, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, Maryland 20857. To speak to a staff member, please call (301) 443-5656. To receive a Hill-Burton information package, call 1-(800) 638-0742 (for callers outside Maryland) or 1-(800) 492-0359 (for callers in Maryland). You also may visit http://www.hrsa.gov/gethealthcare/affordable/hillburton/.

For information about the number of people in poverty, visit the Poverty section of the Census Bureau's web site at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/poverty.html or contact the Census Bureau's Customer Service Center at 1-(800) 923-8282 (toll-free) or visit http://ask.census.gov for further information.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Back to Top

Background Back to Top

Section 673(2) of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) of 1981 (42 U.S.C. 9902(2)) requires the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to update the poverty guidelines at least annually, adjusting them on the basis of the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U). The poverty guidelines are used as an eligibility criterion by the Community Services Block Grant program and a number of other Federal programs. The poverty guidelines issued here are a simplified version of the poverty thresholds that the Census Bureau uses to prepare its estimates of the number of individuals and families in poverty.

As required by law, this update is accomplished by increasing the latest published Census Bureau poverty thresholds by the relevant percentage change in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U). The guidelines in this 2012 notice reflect the 3.2 percent price increase between calendar years 2010 and 2011. After this inflation adjustment, the guidelines are rounded and adjusted to standardize the differences between family sizes. The same calculation procedure was used this year as in previous years. (Note that these 2012 guidelines are roughly equal to the poverty thresholds for calendar year 2011 which the Census Bureau expects to publish in final form in September 2012.)

The poverty guidelines continue to be derived from the Census Bureau's current official poverty thresholds; they are not derived from the Census Bureau's new Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM).

The following guideline figures represent annual income.

2012 Poverty Guidelines for the 48 Contiguous States and the District of Columbia Back to Top
Persons in family/household Poverty guideline
1 $11,170
2 15,130
3 19,090
4 23,050
5 27,010
6 30,970
7 34,930
8 38,890

For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $3,960 for each additional person.

2012 Poverty Guidelines for Alaska Back to Top
Persons in family/household Poverty guideline
1 $13,970
2 18,920
3 23,870
4 28,820
5 33,770
6 38,720
7 43,670
8 48,620

For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $4,950 for each additional person.

2012 Poverty Guidelines for Hawaii Back to Top
Persons in family/household Poverty guideline
1 $12,860
2 17,410
3 21,960
4 26,510
5 31,060
6 35,610
7 40,160
8 44,710

For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $4,550 for each additional person.

Separate poverty guideline figures for Alaska and Hawaii reflect Office of Economic Opportunity administrative practice beginning in the 1966-1970 period. (Note that the Census Bureau poverty thresholds—the version of the poverty measure used for statistical purposes—have never had separate figures for Alaska and Hawaii.) The poverty guidelines are not defined for Puerto Rico or other outlying jurisdictions. In cases in which a Federal program using the poverty guidelines serves any of those jurisdictions, the Federal office that administers the program is generally responsible for deciding whether to use the contiguous-states-and-DC guidelines for those jurisdictions or to follow some other procedure.

Due to confusing legislative language dating back to 1972, the poverty guidelines sometimes have been mistakenly referred to as the “OMB” (Office of Management and Budget) poverty guidelines or poverty line. In fact, OMB has never issued the guidelines; the guidelines are issued each year by the Department of Health and Human Services. The poverty guidelines may be formally referenced as “the poverty guidelines updated periodically in the Federal Register by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under the authority of 42 U.S.C. 9902(2).”

Some federal programs use a percentage multiple of the guidelines (for example, 125 percent or 185 percent of the guidelines), as noted in relevant authorizing legislation or program regulations. Non-Federal organizations that use the poverty guidelines under their own authority in non-Federally-funded activities also may choose to use a percentage multiple of the guidelines.

The poverty guidelines do not make a distinction between farm and non-farm families, or between aged and non-aged units. (Only the Census Bureau poverty thresholds have separate figures for aged and non-aged one-person and two-person units.)

Note that this notice does not provide definitions of such terms as “income” or “family,” because there is considerable variation in defining these terms among the different programs that use the guidelines. These variations are traceable to the different laws and regulations that govern the various programs. This means that questions such as “Is income counted before or after taxes?”, “Should a particular type of income be counted?”, and “Should a particular person be counted as a member of the family/household?” are actually questions about how a specific program applies the poverty guidelines. All such questions about how a specific program applies the guidelines should be directed to the entity that administers or funds the program, since that entity has the responsibility for defining such terms as “income” or “family,” to the extent that these terms are not already defined for the program in legislation or regulations.

Dated: January 19, 2012.

Kathleen Sebelius,

Secretary of Health and Human Services.

[FR Doc. 2012-1603 Filed 1-25-12; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4150-05-P

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