The federal poverty guidelines for 2014 are $23,850 for a family of four or $11,670 for a single person. For a couple or two people in the household the poverty guideline is $15,730. Alaska and Hawaii have different guidelines than the 48 contiguous states.
Poverty guidelines are often used for public services such as Head Start, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Typically, to be eligible for these programs a family must fall within a certain percent of the poverty guideline, such as 125 percent, though all programs have different eligibility requirements. Keep in mind that some federal programs, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit program, does not use the poverty guidelines to determine eligibility.