Federal Poverty Level Definition

The "federal poverty level" is an ambiguous colloquial phrase that is not rigorously defined, but usually refers to a calculated income threshold which is used to determine, on the federal level, whether a person or family is legally defined as impoverished. The federal poverty thresholds are updated by the Census Bureau and are mainly used for statistical purposes. On the other hand, the Department of Health and Human Services releases annual poverty guidelines in the Federal Register; these guidelines are used for some administrative purposes, such as qualifying for some types of public assistance. Most states have their own method of calculating poverty.