County of Monmouth
Federal Poverty Guidelines

"Your Needs Are Our Concern"


The poverty thresholds are the original version of the federal poverty measure.  They are updated each year by the Census Bureau (although they were originally developed by Mollie Orshansky of the Social Security Administration).  The thresholds are used mainly for statistical purposes - for instance, preparing estimates of the number of Americans in poverty each year.  (In other words, all official poverty population figures are calculated using the poverty threshold, not the guidelines.)  Poverty thresholds since 1980 and weighted average poverty thresholds since 1959 are available on the Census Bureau's Web site.

The poverty guidelines are the other version of the Federal poverty measure.  They are issued each year in the Federal Register by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  The guidelines are a simplification of the poverty thresholds for use for administrative purposes - for instance, determining financial eligibility for certain federal programs.

2010 HHS Poverty Guidelines
Size of Family Unit 48 Contiguous
States and D.C.
Alaska Hawaii
1 $10,830 $13,530 $12,460
2 14,570 18,210 16,760
3 18,310 22,890 21,060
4 22,050 27,570 25,360
5 25,790 32,250 29,660
6 29,530 36,930 33,960
7 33,270 41,610 38,260
8 37,010 46,290 42,560
For each additional
person, add
3,740 4,680 4,300

Programs using the guidelines (or percentage multiples of the guidelines-for instance, 125 percent or 185 percent 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.  Note that in general, cash public assistance programs (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and its predecessor Aid to Families with Dependent Children, and Supplemental Security Income) do NOT use the poverty guidelines in determining eligibility.  The Earned Income Tax Credit program also does NOT use the poverty guidelines to determine eligibility.

The poverty guidelines (unlike the poverty thresholds) are designated by the year in which they are issued.  For instance, the guidelines issued in January 2006 are designated the 2006 poverty guidelines.  However, the 2006 HHS poverty guidelines only reflect price changes through calendar year 2005; accordingly, they are approximately equal to the Census Bureau poverty thresholds for calendar year 2005. 

The poverty guidelines may be formally referenced as "the poverty guidelines updated periodically in the Federal Register by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under the authority of 42 U.S.C. 9902(2)."

Further information about the poverty Guidelines is available from the following: