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Notice

Annual Update of the HHS Poverty Guidelines

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Department of Health and Human Services.

ACTION:

Notice.

SUMMARY:

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

EFFECTIVE DATE:

These guidelines go into effect on the day they are published (unless an office administering a program using the guidelines specifies a different effective date for that particular program.)

ADDRESS:

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

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

For information about how the poverty guidelines are used in a particular program, contact the Federal (or other) office which is responsible for that program.

For general information about the poverty guidelines (but NOT for information about a particular program—such as the Hill-Burton Uncompensated Services Program—that uses the poverty guidelines), contact 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) 690-5880; persons with Internet access may visit the poverty guidelines Internet site at <http://aspe.hhs.gov/​poverty/​poverty.htm>.

For information about the Hill-Burton Uncompensated Services Program (no-fee or reduced-fee health care services at certain hospitals and other health care facilities for certain persons unable to pay for such care), contact the Office of the Director, Division of Facilities Compliance and Recovery, HRSA, HHS, Room 10C-16, Parklawn Building, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, Maryland 20857—telephone: (301) 443-5656 or 1-800-638-0742 (for callers outside Maryland) or 1-800-492-0359 (for callers in Maryland); persons with Internet access may visit the Division of Facilities Compliance and Recovery Internet home page site at <http://www.hrsa.gov/​osp/​dfcr>. The Division of Facilities Compliance and Recovery notes that as set by 42 CFR 124.505(b), the effective date of this update of the poverty guidelines for facilities obligated under the Hill-Burton Uncompensated Services Program is sixty days from the date of this publication.

For information about the percentage multiple of the poverty guidelines to be used on immigration forms such as INS Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, contact the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. To obtain information on the most recent applicable poverty guidelines from the Immigration and Naturalization Service, call 1-800-375-5283. Persons with Internet access may obtain the information from the Immigration and Naturalization Service Internet site at <http://www.ins.usdoj.gov/​graphics/​howdoi/​affsupp.htm>.

For information about the Department of Labor's Lower Living Standard Income Level (a self-sufficiency criterion with the poverty guidelines for certain Workforce Investment Act employment and training programs), contact Ronald E. Putz, U.S. Department of Labor— telephone: (202) 219-7694, extension 142—e-mail: <rputz@doleta.gov>.

For information about the number of people in poverty (since 1959) or about the Census Bureau (statistical) poverty thresholds, contact the HHES Division, Room 1472, Federal Office Building #3, U.S. Bureau of the Census, Washington, DC 20233—telephone: (301) 457-3242— or send e-mail to <hhes-info@census.gov>; persons with Internet access may visit the Poverty section of the Census Bureau's World Wide Web site at <http://www.census.gov/​hhes/​www/​poverty.html>.

2000 Poverty Guidelines for the 48 Contiguous States and the District of Columbia

Size of family unitPoverty guideline
1$ 8,350
211,250
314,150
417,050
519,950
622,850
725,750
828,650

For family units with more than 8 members, add $2,900 for each additional member. (The same increment applies to smaller family sizes also, as can be seen in the figures above.) Start Printed Page 7556

2000 Poverty Guidelines for Alaska

Size of family unitPoverty guideline
1$10,430
214,060
317,690
421,320
524,950
628,580
732,210
835,840

For family units with more than 8 members, add $3,630 for each additional member. (The same increment applies to smaller family sizes also, as can be seen in the figures above.)

2000 Poverty Guidelines for Hawaii

Size of family unitPoverty guideline
1$ 9,590
212,930
316,270
419,610
522,950
626,290
729,630
832,970

For family units with more than 8 members, add $3,340 for each additional member. (The same increment applies to smaller family sizes also, as can be seen in the figures above.)

(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 primary version of the poverty measure—have never had separate figures for Alaska and Hawaii. The poverty guidelines are not defined for Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and Palau. In cases in which a Federal program using the poverty guidelines serves any of those jurisdictions, the Federal office which administers the program is responsible for deciding whether to use the contiguous-states-and-DC guidelines for those jurisdictions or to follow some other procedure.)

The preceding figures are the 2000 update of the poverty guidelines required by section 673(2) of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) of 1981 (Pub. L. 97-35). As required by law, this update reflects last year's change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI-U); it was done using the same procedure used in previous years.

Section 673(2) of OBRA-1981 (42 U.S.C. 9902(2)) requires the use of the poverty guidelines as an eligibility criterion for the Community Services Block Grant program. The poverty guidelines are also used as an eligibility criterion by a number of other Federal programs (both HHS and non-HHS). Due to confusing legislative language dating back to 1972, the poverty guidelines have sometimes 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 (formerly by the Office of Economic Opportunity/Community Services Administration). The poverty guidelines may be formally referenced as “the poverty guidelines updated annually in the Federal Register by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under authority of 42 U.S.C. 9902(2).”

The poverty guidelines are a simplified version of the Federal Government's statistical poverty thresholds used by the Bureau of the Census to prepare its statistical estimates of the number of persons and families in poverty. The poverty guidelines issued by the Department of Health and Human Services are used for administrative purposes—for instance, for determining whether a person or family is financially eligible for assistance or services under a particular Federal program. The poverty thresholds are used primarily for statistical purposes. Since the poverty guidelines in this notice—the 2000 guidelines—reflect price changes through calendar year 1999, they are approximately equal to the poverty thresholds for calendar year 1999 which the Census Bureau expects to issue in September or October 2000. (A preliminary version of the 1999 thresholds is now available from the Census Bureau.)

In certain cases, as noted in the relevant authorizing legislation or program regulations, a program uses the poverty guidelines as only one of several eligibility criteria, or uses a percentage multiple of the guidelines (for example, 125 percent or 185 percent of the guidelines.) Non-Federal organizations which use the poverty guidelines under their own authority in non-Federally-funded activities also have the option of choosing to use a percentage multiple of the guidelines such as 125 percent or 185 percent.

While many programs use the guidelines to classify persons or families as either eligible or ineligible, some other programs use the guidelines for the purpose of giving priority to lower-income persons or families in the provision of assistance or services.

In some cases, these poverty guidelines may not become effective for a particular program until a regulation or notice specifically applying to the program in question has been issued.

The poverty guidelines given above should be used for both farm and non-farm families. Similarly, these guidelines should be used for both aged and non-aged units. The poverty guidelines have never had an aged/non-aged distinction; only the Census Bureau (statistical) poverty thresholds have separate figures for aged and non-aged one-person and two-person units.

Definitions

There is no universal administrative definition of “family,” “family unit,” or “household” that is valid for all programs that use the poverty guidelines. Federal programs in some cases use administrative definitions that differ somewhat from the statistical definitions given below; the Federal office which administers a program has the responsibility for making decisions about administrative definitions. Similarly, non-Federal organizations which use the poverty guidelines in non-Federally-funded activities may use administrative definitions that differ from the statistical definitions given below. In either case, to find out the precise definitions used by a particular program, one must consult the office or organization administering the program in question.

The following statistical definitions (derived for the most part from language used in U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports, Series P60-185 and earlier reports in the same series) are made available for illustrative purposes only; in other words, these statistical definitions are not binding for administrative purposes.

(a) Family. A family is a group of two or more persons related by birth, marriage, or adoption who live together; all such related persons are considered as members of one family. For instance, if an older married couple, their daughter and her husband and two children, and the older couple's nephew all lived in the same house or apartment, they would all be considered members of a single family.

(b) Unrelated individual. An unrelated individual is a person 15 years old or over (other than an inmate of an institution) who is not living with Start Printed Page 7557any relatives. An unrelated individual may be the only person living in a house or apartment, or may be living in a house or apartment (or in group quarters such as a rooming house) in which one or more persons also live who are not related to the individual in question by birth, marriage, or adoption. Examples of unrelated individuals residing with others include a lodger, a foster child, a ward, or an employee.

(c) Household. As defined by the Bureau of the Census for statistical purposes, a household consists of all the persons who occupy a housing unit (house or apartment), whether they are related to each other or not. If a family and an unrelated individual, or two unrelated individuals, are living in the same housing unit, they would constitute two family units (see next item), but only one household. Some programs, such as the Food Stamp Program and the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, employ administrative variations of the “household” concept in determining income eligibility. A number of other programs use administrative variations of the “family” concept in determining income eligibility. Depending on the precise program definition used, programs using a “family” concept would generally apply the poverty guidelines separately to each family and/or unrelated individual within a household if the household includes more than one family and/or unrelated individual.

(d) Family Unit. “Family unit” is not an official U.S. Bureau of the Census term, although it has been used in the poverty guidelines Federal Register notice since 1978. As used here, either an unrelated individual or a family (as defined above) constitutes a family unit. In other words, a family unit of size one is an unrelated individual, while a family unit of two/three/etc. is the same as a family of two/three/etc.

Note that this notice no longer provides a definition of “income.” This is for two reasons. First, there is no universal administrative definition of “income” that is valid for all programs that use the poverty guidelines. Second, in the past there has been confusion regarding important differences between the statistical definition of income and various administrative definitions of “income” or “countable income.” The precise definition of “income” for a particular program is very sensitive to the specific needs and purposes of that program. To determine, for example, whether or not taxes, college scholarships, or other particular types of income should be counted as “income” in determining eligibility for a specific program, one must consult the office or organization administering the program in question; that office or organization has the responsibility for making decisions about the definition of “income” used by the program (to the extent that the definition is not already contained in legislation or regulations).

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Dated: February 9, 2000.

Donna E. Shalala,

Secretary of Health and Human Services.

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[FR Doc. 00-3478 Filed 2-10-00; 2:30 pm]

BILLING CODE 4154-05-P