The Department of Health and Human Services issues poverty guidelines that establish income limits for certain governmental programs. With input from census statistics, DHHS and the Federal Register treat poverty thresholds and poverty guidelines differently, due to the purpose of each.
Census thresholds generally apply to statistical reports accounting for the number of households experience poverty. All 50 states and the District of Columbia thresholds are treated the same for statistical purposes, according to DHHS.
The annual poverty guidelines for the 48 continental states and the District of Columbia provide the basis for qualifying households to receive benefits from federal and state programs. The Federal Register publishes individual poverty guidelines for Alaska and Hawaii.