1997 Poverty Guidelines, Federal Register Notice

02/28/1997

[Federal Register: March 10, 1997 (Volume 62, Number 46)]
[Notices]
[Page 10856-10859]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr10mr97-78]
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

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 March 10, 1997
(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 7-47, 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 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, Administrator, Office of Job Training
Programs, 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 the Income,
Poverty, and Labor Force Information Staff, HHES Division, Room 416,
Iverson Mall, U.S. Bureau of the Census, Washington, D.C. 20233--
telephone: (301) 763-8578.

1997 Poverty Guidelines for the 48 Contiguous States and the District of
                                Columbia
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                Poverty
                     Size of family unit                       guideline
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1............................................................     $7,890
2............................................................     10,610
3............................................................     13,330
4............................................................     16,050
5............................................................     18,770
6............................................................     21,490
7............................................................     24,210
8............................................................     26,930
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    For family units with more than 8 members, add $2,720 for each
additional member. (The same increment applies to smaller family sizes
also, as can be seen in the figures above.)

                   1997 Poverty Guidelines for Alaska
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                Poverty
                     Size of family unit                       guideline
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1............................................................     $9,870
2............................................................     13,270
3............................................................     16,670
4............................................................     20,070
5............................................................     23,470
6............................................................     26,870
7............................................................     30,270
8............................................................     33,670
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    For family units with more than 8 members, add $3,400 for each
additional member. (The same increment applies to smaller family sizes
also, as can be seen in the figures above.)

                   1997 Poverty Guidelines for Hawaii
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                Poverty
                     Size of family unit                       guideline
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1............................................................     $9,070
2............................................................     12,200
3............................................................     15,330
4............................................................     18,460
5............................................................     21,590
6............................................................     24,720
7............................................................     27,850
8............................................................     30,980
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    For family units with more than 8 members, add $3,130 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 1997 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,

[[Page 10858]]

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 1997 guidelines--reflect price
changes through calendar year 1996, they are approximately equal to the
poverty thresholds for calendar year 1996 which the Census Bureau will
issue in late summer or autumn 1997. (A preliminary version of the 1996
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.

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 P60-185 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

[[Page 10859]]

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 28, 1997.
Donna E. Shalala,
Secretary of Health and Human Services.
[FR Doc. 97-5731 Filed 3-7-97; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4110-60-P