Poverty Guidelines

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) uses the poverty guidelines to determine financial eligibility for various federal programs. They are updated annually to account for changes in the cost of living and other factors. Some of these programs include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Head Start, and the Earned Income Tax Credit. These guidelines are also used to rule who is eligible to sponsor a family member for immigration.

In addition to HHS, several other agencies use these guidelines for different purposes. For example, the federal agency responsible for determining public charge eligibility uses them to determine whether an individual’s income is sufficient to support a sponsored immigrant. The income requirement for sponsorship is generally 125% or 100% of the poverty guideline, depending on the household size.

The poverty guidelines are based on household size and vary by state. For instance, the federal poverty guidelines for the 48 contiguous states and Washington DC are different from those for Alaska and Hawaii. This is because the cost of living in these states is higher than that of the contiguous states and Washington, DC. This is why HHS publishes separate charts for each state. Nonetheless, the figures for each chart are essentially the same. As always, there is some variance between these figures and the Census Bureau’s poverty thresholds, which are used primarily for statistical purposes.

How are Poverty Guidelines Determined
Poverty Guidelines 1

How are Poverty Guidelines Determined?

The poverty guidelines are based on the Census Bureau’s current official poverty thresholds, which are updated annually. The annual increase in the poverty level is based on the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U). The HHS poverty guidelines are used as an eligibility criterion for a variety of programs, including Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). In addition, they are used to calculate savings on Marketplace Health Insurance plans.

The federal poverty guidelines are updated annually and set by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Various agencies use these figures for several purposes, including determining eligibility for benefits. They are also used by U.S. citizens sponsoring family members for lawful permanent residence through the Form I-864 Affidavit of Support. The HHS poverty guidelines for 2023 are available online.

For a green card sponsorship, the sponsor must show that their income is at least 125% of the HHS poverty guidelines for their household size. This requirement applies to most sponsors, except for military sponsors, who must meet the requirement through their spouse’s income. In addition, the amount is higher for Alaska and Hawaii residents.

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