Federal Poverty Thresholds and Guidelines

Updated March 2016

The federal government provides two different measures of poverty. Poverty thresholds are used to calculate official statistics, and poverty guidelines are used to determine eligibility for certain services.

Poverty Thresholds  

Poverty thresholds are used to calculate official statistics, such as the number of people in poverty each year. For example, in 2015, a single adult under 65 years of age is considered to have been in poverty if his or her annual income was less than $12,331.

The poverty thresholds are updated each year and are available from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Poverty Guidelines

Poverty guidelines are simplified versions of the poverty thresholds that are used to determine income eligibility for certain services, like assistance for health care coverage. The U.S. Department of Human Services publishes poverty guidelines each year.

2016 HHS Poverty Guidelines

 (48 contiguous states and D.C.)

This table displays the federal poverty guidelines, and calculates 138 percent, 200 percent, and 275 percent of the federal poverty guideline. 

 Source: Federal Register, Annual Update of the HHS Poverty Guidelines, January 25, 2016

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