The 2015 poverty level for a one-person household is $11,770, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This guideline applies to the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia.
Poverty guidelines for Alaska and Hawaii are slightly higher than for the rest of the country. These income levels are used to determine eligibility for some government programs, including Head Start and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Federal, state and local programs that refer to the poverty guidelines may define income as either net (after taxes) or gross (before taxes). Poverty guidelines are updated each year according to the economic changes recorded for the previous calendar year.