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Poverty Guidelines for Health and Human Services

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The poverty guidelines are issued each year in the Federal Register by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  The guidelines are used to determine financial eligibility for certain federal programs. 

The poverty guidelines are sometimes loosely referred to as the “federal poverty level” (FPL), but that phrase can be confusing since the poverty guidelines are different than the designations (poverty thresholds) used by the Census Bureau to determine the number of poor persons in a population. The poverty guidelines (unlike the poverty thresholds) are designated by the year in which they are issued. Therefore, the 2014 HHS poverty guidelines only reflect price changes through calendar year 2013.

Federally facilitated marketplaces will use the 2013 guidelines to determine enrollee Advance Premium Tax Credits amounts as well as cost-sharing reductions (effective for those who enroll in 2014).

The following are the latest poverty guidelines, shown by the number of persons in a family, as well as the calculation of 133% of poverty which will be used to determine the upper limit for Medicaid eligibility in 2014. Note that Alaska and Hawaii have separate poverty guidelines.

2014 HHS Poverty Guidelines

in Family

48 Contiguous
States and D.C.

133% of Poverty Calculation

























For each additional person, add


SOURCE: and the Federal Registry

Other programs using the guidelines (or percentage multiples of the guidelines — for instance, 125% or 185% of the guidelines) in determining eligibility include Head Start, the Food Stamp Program, the National School Lunch Program, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. 

Source: Department of Health and Human Services
Last Review:03/03/2014