2009 Poverty Guidelines, Federal Register Notice


[Page 4199-4201]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]


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 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 guidelinesspecifies 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 (HHS), 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. Contact information for two frequently requested programs is given below:

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 http://www.hrsa.gov/hillburton/default.htm. 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.

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 number of people in poverty or about the Census Bureau poverty thresholds, visit the Poverty section of the Census Bureau's Web site at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/poverty.html or contact the Census Bureau's Demographic Call Center Staff at (301) 763-2422 or 1-866-758-1060 (toll-free).

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 http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/.

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, at least annually, the poverty guidelines, which shall be used as an eligibility criterion for the Community Services Block Grant program. The poverty guidelines also are used as an eligibility criterion by 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 2009 notice reflect the 3.8 percent price increase between calendar years 2007 and 2008. 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. (Note that these 2009 guidelines are roughly equal to the poverty thresholds for calendar year 2008 which the Census Bureau expects to publish in final form in August 2009.) The guideline figures shown represent annual income.]

The 2009 Poverty Guidelines for the 48 Contiguous States and the District of Columbia

Persons in familyPoverty guideline

For families with more than 8 persons, add $3,740 for each additional person.

2009 Poverty Guidelines for Alaska

Persons in familyPoverty guideline

For families with more than 8 persons, add $4,680 for each additional person.

2009 Poverty Guidelines for Hawaii

Persons in familyPoverty guideline

For families with more than 8 persons, add $4,300 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 r to follow some other procedure. 

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. 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 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 can choose to use a percentage multiple of the guidelines such as 125 percent or 185 percent.

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." This is because there is considerable variation in how different programs that use the guidelines define these terms, 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 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 organization that administers the program; that organization has the responsibility for making decisions about definitions of such terms as "income" or "family" (to the extent that the definition is not already contained in legislation or regulations).

Dated: January 16, 2009.

Michael O. Leavitt,

Secretary of Health and Human Services.

[FR Doc. E9-1510 Filed 1-22-09; 8:45 am]