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2011 Poverty Guidelines, Federal Register Notice

[Page 3637-3638] 
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [] 


Office of the Secretary

Annual Update of the HHS Poverty Guidelines

AGENCY: Department of Health and Human Services.
ACTION: Notice.

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.

DATES: Effective Date: Date of publication, 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 404E, Humphrey Building, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, DC 20201.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: 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 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

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 Facilities Compliance and Recovery, 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

For information about the number of people in poverty, visit the Poverty section of the Census Bureau's Web site at or contact the Census Bureau's Customer Service Center at 1-800-923-8282 (toll-free) or visit for further information.


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 2011 notice reflect the 1.6 percent price increase between calendar years 2009 and 2010. 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 (except for 2010, as discussed below).

Last year's poverty guidelines — the 2010 guidelines — were issued at an atypical time (August 3, 2010, rather than late January 2010) because legislation enacted in late 2009 (Pub. L. 111-118) and early 2010 (Pub. L. 111-144 and 111-157) ultimately prohibited publication of 2010 poverty guidelines before May 31, 2010. The details of the calculation of the 2010 guidelines were adjusted to take into account the period for which their publication was delayed, as described at 75 FR 45628. However, the level of the 2011 poverty guidelines presented here is not affected by the way in which the 2010 poverty guidelines were calculated because, in following the usual process for updating the poverty guidelines, the starting point for calculating the 2011 poverty guidelines is the 2009 Census Bureau poverty thresholds, and not the 2010 poverty guidelines.

The following guideline figures represent annual income.

The 2011 Poverty Guidelines for the 48 Contiguous States and the District of Columbia

Persons in family Poverty guideline
1 $10,890
2 14,710
3 18,530
4 22,350
5 26,170
6 29,990
7 33,810
8 37,630

For families with more than 8 persons, add $3,820 for each additional person.

2011 Poverty Guidelines for Alaska

Persons in family Poverty guideline
1 $13,600
2 18,380
3 23,160
4 27,940
5 32,720
6 37,500
7 42,280
8 47,060

For families with more than 8 persons, add $4,780 for each additional person.

2011 Poverty Guidelines for Hawaii

Persons in family Poverty guideline
1 $12,540
2 16,930
3 21,320
4 25,710
5 30,100
6 34,490
7 38,880
8 43,270

For families with more than 8 persons, add $4,390 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 may also 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. Therefore, questions about how a particular program applies the poverty guidelines (for example, Is income counted before or after taxes? Should a particular type of income be counted? Should a particular person be counted in the family or household unit?) should be directed to the entity that administers or funds the program; 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 14, 2011.

Kathleen Sebelius,
Secretary of Health and Human Services.
[FR Doc. 2011-1237 Filed 1-18-11; 4:15 pm]