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[Federal Register: February 24, 1998 (Volume 63, Number 36)]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
Office of the Secretary
Annual Update of the HHS Poverty Guidelines
AGENCY: Department of Health and Human Services.
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).
ADDRESSES: Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, Room 438F, Humphrey Building, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Washington, D.C. 20201.
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 438F, Humphrey Building, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201--telephone: (202) 690-6141.
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, Twinbrook Metro Plaza, 12300 Twinbrook Parkway, Suite 520, Rockville, Maryland 20852--telephone: (301) 443-5656 or 1-800-638-0742 (for callers outside Maryland) or 1-800-492-0359 (for callers in Maryland). 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.
Under an amendment to the Older Americans Act, the figures in this notice are the figures that state and area agencies on aging should use to determine "greatest economic need" for Older Americans Act programs. For information about Older Americans Act programs, contact Carol Crecy, Administration on Aging, HHS--telephone: (202) 619-0011.
For information about the Department of Labor's Lower Living Standard Income Level (an alternative eligibility criterion with the poverty guidelines for certain Job Training Partnership Act programs), contact Theodore W. Mastroianni, Associate Assistant Secretary, Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor--telephone: (202) 219-6236.
For information about the number of persons in poverty (since 1959) or about the Census Bureau (statistical) poverty thresholds, contact the HHES Division, Room 1462, Federal Office Building #3, U.S. Bureau of the Census, Washington, D.C. 20233--telephone: (301) 457-3242.
1998 Poverty Guidelines for the 48 Contiguous States and the District of Columbia
Poverty Size of family unit guideline 1 $8,050 2 10,850 3 13,650 4 16,450 5 19,250 6 22,050 7 24,850 8 27,650
For family units with more than 8 members, add $2,800 for each additional member. (The same increment applies to smaller family sizes also, as can be seen in the figures above.)
1998 Poverty Guidelines for Alaska
Poverty Size of family unit guideline 1 $10,070 2 13,570 3 17,070 4 20,570 5 24,070 6 27,570 7 31,070 8 34,570
For family units with more than 8 members, add $3,500 for each additional member. (The same increment applies to smaller family sizes also, as can be seen in the figures above.)
1998 Poverty Guidelines for Hawaii
Poverty Size of family unit guideline 1 $9,260 2 12,480 3 15,700 4 18,920 5 22,140 6 25,360 7 28,580 8 31,800
For family units with more than 8 members, add $3,220 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-D.C. guidelines for those jurisdictions or to follow some other procedure.)
The preceding figures are the 1998 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 section 673(2) of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981."
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 1998 guidelines--reflect price changes through calendar year 1997, they are approximately equal to the poverty thresholds for calendar year 1997 which the Census Bureau will issue in late summer or autumn 1998. (A preliminary version of the 1997 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.
Some programs, while not using the guidelines to exclude non-lower-income persons as ineligible, use them 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 nonfarm 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.
There is no universal administrative definition of "income," "family," "family unit," or "household" that is valid for all programs that use the poverty guidelines. Federal programs may 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 any 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.
(e) Income. Programs which use the poverty guidelines in determining eligibility may use administrative definitions of "income" (or "countable income") which differ from the statistical definition given below. Note that for administrative purposes, in many cases, income data for a part of a year may be annualized in order to determine eligibility--for instance, by multiplying by four the amount of income received during the most recent three months.
For statistical purposes--to determine official income and poverty statistics--the Bureau of the Census defines income to include total annual cash receipts before taxes from all sources, with the exceptions noted below. Income includes money wages and salaries before any deductions; net receipts from nonfarm self-employment (receipts from a person's own unincorporated business, professional enterprise, or partnership, after deductions for business expenses); net receipts from farm self-employment (receipts from a farm which one operates as an owner, renter, or sharecropper, after deductions for farm operating expenses); regular payments from social security, railroad retirement, unemployment compensation, strike benefits from union funds, workers' compensation, veterans' payments, public assistance (including Aid to Families with Dependent Children or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Supplemental Security Income, and non-Federally-funded General Assistance or General Relief money payments), and training stipends; alimony, child support, and military family allotments or other regular support from an absent family member or someone not living in the household; private pensions, government employee pensions (including military retirement pay), and regular insurance or annuity payments; college or university scholarships, grants, fellowships, and assistantships; and dividends, interest, net rental income, net royalties, periodic receipts from estates or trusts, and net gambling or lottery winnings.
For official statistical purposes, income does not include the following types of money received: capital gains; any assets drawn down as withdrawals from a bank, the sale of property, a house, or a car; or tax refunds, gifts, loans, lump-sum inheritances, one-time insurance payments, or compensation for injury. Also excluded are noncash benefits, such as the employer-paid or union-paid portion of health insurance or other employee fringe benefits, food or housing received in lieu of wages, the value of food and fuel produced and consumed on farms, the imputed value of rent from owner-occupied nonfarm or farm housing, and such Federal noncash benefit programs as Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, school lunches, and housing assistance.
Dated: February 17, 1998.
Donna E. Shalala,
Secretary of Health and Human Services.
[FR Doc. 98-4566 Filed 2-20-98; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4150-04-M