HHS Releases the 2017 Federal Poverty Level Guidelines

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HHS Releases the 2017 Federal Poverty Level Guidelines


Guidelines used to determine financial eligibility for many federal and state programs were published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in late January (https://aspe.hhs.gov/povertyguidelines). Usually referred to as the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), the guidelines set the 100 percent poverty level for a single individual in the 48 contiguous states at $12,060 (up from $11,880 in 2016) and for a couple at $16,240 (up from $16,020 in 2016). For a family of four, the amount is $24,600. Alaska and Hawaii each have slightly higher averages.

There are two versions of federal poverty measures: poverty thresholds and poverty guidelines. Thresholds, updated yearly by the U.S. Census Bureau, are used mainly for statistical purposes (e.g., estimating the number of Americans living in poverty). Annual poverty guidelines issued by HHS are simplified versions, used for administrative purposes such as determining financial eligibility for federal programs.

For comparison purposes, the U.S median income (latest 2015 Census figures) is $55,775, and, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of government data, 51 percent of adults lived in middle-income households, 29 percent in lower-income households and 20 percent in upperincome households. The analysis shows that from 2000 to 2014 the American middle class decreased in metropolitan areas and shares of adults in lower- and upperincome ranks grew. …

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