1996 Poverty Guidelines, Federal Register Notice

02/27/1996

Federal Register: March 4, 1996 (Volume 61, Number 43)
Notices
Pages 8286-8288
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.

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).

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 how they are used in a particular program), 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, Room 7-31, 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). 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 Administration on Aging
programs. For information about Administration on Aging programs,
contact Donald Fowles, 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 Josephine Nieves, Associate Assistant Secretary for Employment
and Training, U.S. Department of Labor--telephone: (202) 219-6236.

    For information about the number of persons in poverty or about the
Census Bureau (statistical) poverty thresholds, contact Income,
Poverty, and Labor Force Information Staff, U.S. Bureau of the Census--
telephone: (301) 763-8578.


1996 Poverty Guidelines for the 48 Contiguous States and the District of
                                Columbia
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                Poverty
                     Size of family unit                       guideline
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1............................................................     $7,740
2............................................................     10,360
3............................................................     12,980
4............................................................     15,600
5............................................................     18,220
6............................................................     20,840
7............................................................     23,460
8............................................................     26,080
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    For family units with more than 8 members, add $2,620 for each
additional member. (The same increment applies to smaller family sizes
also, as can be seen in the figures above.)

                   1996 Poverty Guidelines for Alaska
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                Poverty
                     Size of family unit                       guideline
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1............................................................     $9,660
2............................................................     12,940
3............................................................     16,220
4............................................................     19,500
5............................................................     22,780
6............................................................     26,060
7............................................................     29,340
8............................................................     32,620
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    For family units with more than 8 members, add $3,280 for each
additional member. (The same increment applies to smaller family sizes
also, as can be seen in the figures above.)

                   1996 Poverty Guidelines for Hawaii
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                Poverty
                     Size of family unit                       guideline
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1............................................................     $8,910
2............................................................     11,920
3............................................................     14,930
4............................................................     17,940
5............................................................     20,950
6............................................................     23,960
7............................................................     26,970
8............................................................     29,980
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    For family units with more than 8 members, add $3,010 for each
additional member. (The same increment applies to smaller family sizes
also, as can be seen in the figures above.)

    The preceding figures are the 1996 update of the poverty guidelines
required by sections 652 and 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, while section 652 (42 U.S.C. 9847)
requires the use of the poverty guidelines as an eligibility criterion
for the Head Start program. The poverty guidelines are also used as an
eligibility criterion by a number of other Federal programs (both HHS
and non-HHS). When such programs give an OBRA-1981 citation for the
poverty guidelines, they cite section 673(2). 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
1996 guidelines--reflect price changes through calendar year 1995, they
are approximately equal to the poverty thresholds for calendar year
1995 which the Census Bureau will issue in late summer or autumn 1996.
(A preliminary version of the 1995 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, 130 percent or 185 percent of the
guidelines). Some other 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.

Definitions

    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 P60-188 and
earlier reports in the same series) are made available for illustrative
purposes only.

    (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, Supplemental Security Income,
Emergency Assistance money payments, 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 27, 1996.
Donna E. Shalala,
Secretary of Health and Human Services.