As of 2015, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services establishes annual federal poverty levels; compare these figures to your annual income and family size to calculate whether you are over or under 100 percent of the federal poverty level, explains Lorain County Community Action Agency. Various agencies use federal poverty guidelines to determine eligibility for some, but not all, governmental programs and services related to income, according to the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation.
The U.S. Bureau of the Census establishes annual poverty thresholds, which it uses primarily for statistical purposes, notes the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services uses Census Bureau information to set federal poverty levels for the pragmatic administration of assistance programs. Alaska, Hawaii and U.S. territories use separate guidelines; individual federal aid programs in territories choose whether to follow standard guidelines or establish a different procedure. Poverty levels do not use age as a criterion.
The Department of Health and Human Services set the 2015 federal poverty level for a single person at $11,770, states the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. Households add $4,160 for each additional person. Programs such as Head Start and the Children's Health Insurance Program use federal poverty guidelines to determine eligibility, but cash assistance programs such as Supplemental Security Income do not. Some programs use percentile increments (120 percent, 165 percent) of poverty levels to ascertain eligibility. The Department of Health and Human Services' website provides a detailed list of the programs that use federal poverty levels.