In 2014, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' poverty guidelines for the 48 contiguous states and Washington, D.C., ranged from $11,670 annual income for a household of one person to $40,090 for a household of eight. The guideline increased by $4,060 for each household member after the eighth.Continue Reading
Poverty guidelines for Alaska ranged from $14,580 for households of one to $50,140 for households of eight, with $5,080 allowed for each additional member. In Hawaii, they ranged from $13,420 to $46,110, with $4,670 for each additional member.
The primary use of poverty guidelines is determination of eligibility for many federal programs, including Head Start, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (often called food stamps after the program's former name), loans and scholarships for disadvantaged health professions students, and Job Corps. Programs often determine eligibility based on a percentage in excess of the poverty guideline for household size, for example, 125 percent of the poverty guideline. Nongovernmental organizations may also determine eligibility or lower fees for services based on the federal guidelines.
The U.S. Census Bureau also calculates poverty thresholds each year for statistical purposes, including estimating how many Americans live in poverty. These thresholds take into account the ages of household members, while the poverty guidelines do not. In 2014, the poverty threshold for an individual under 65 living alone was $12,316; for individuals 65 and above, it was $11,354. The poverty threshold for a family of four, including two children under age 18, was $24,008.Learn more about Social Sciences