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Poverty Guidelines

You might be suprised to know the federal poverty guidelines. If you make $22,000 a year salary and think you are poor, think again. If you are a couple and both make as much as $14,600, thats before taxes and social security. You are not poor. At least according to the federal government.


Are you single and earn over $10,500 a year including social security? Then you are not poor, according to the government. If you have a spouse your income must be less than $14,600 to be poor, again according to the government. And that is before income tax and social security deductions. If you earn that much you will not get any government help with food stamps or energy bills.

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Worse yet some politicians complain that today’s retirees are too affluent. They would cut Medicare and Social Security while at the same time giving themselves big raises and medical benefits. Yet by the governments own records more than three million senior citizens are living in poverty. Women over 65 have double the poverty rate of men the same age, because women’s wages have been lower than men’s. Of course many families would take a yearly salary of $10,500 as a godsend.

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Now the “baby boomers’ the wave of babies that were born after WW11 are entering retirement. The generation that said, “Don’t trust anyone over thirty.” This generation spent money on unaffordable homes, expensive clothes, and fast cars. They had fewer children than their parents before them. Therefore the number of children have been shrinking while the number of elderly are rising. Fewer children will have to pay more to fund their parents retirement. Not all of the baby boomers have been so foolish, many learned from their parents who had suffered through the depression of the 30s.

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We are living longer. A hundred years ago the average of a woman’s life was fifty years. Today it is eighty two years. Men normally die five to ten years younger. Of course this is the average. If you reach seventy five in good health you can expect to live another fifteen years. The fastest growing group of the population are those over eighty five. At this rate the sixty five plus will soon out number teenagers two to one.


Below you will find the 2010 Federal Poverty Guidelines. If you make this much you are not poor.

For one=$10,500

For two=$14,600

For three=$18,300

For four=$22,100

For five=$25,800

For six=$29,500

For seven=$33,300

For eight=$37,000

For each additional person=$3,700


Programs using the Federal Poverty Guidelines to determine eligibility include Food Stamps, and the Low Income Energy Assistance Program. Aid to Families with Dependent Children do not use these guidelines to determine eligibility.

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User Comments

    On January 25, 2010 at 11:03 am

    now i have to rethink my status. my grandmother told me a story the other day and it went like this.
    a man was eating a banana in a tree and complaining about his poverty and destitution. he was quarelling about the fact that he had to live in a tree and had to eat a banana for dinner.
    he ate the banana and threw it on the ground.
    when he was looked down he saw a man rose from a rubbish bin a few feets down on the ground. the man took the banana skin and ate it.

    the lesson my grandmother wanted me to leanr was simple
    sometimes u think u r ina rut and there are people who are in far more deplorable situations that you are.

    thanks for sharing ruby.

  2. jennifer eiffel01

    On January 25, 2010 at 11:06 am

    Thanks for the great, fascinating article. You have obviously put a lot of love in this article, like others of yours. Thanks for that as I appreciate reading ALL your articles!

  3. jennifer eiffel01

    On January 25, 2010 at 11:06 am

    Thanks for the fascinating article. You have obviously put a lot of love in this article, like others of yours. Thanks for that as I appreciate reading ALL your articles!

  4. Nitin Mudgal

    On January 25, 2010 at 11:12 am

    Thanks for this good article

  5. lillyrose

    On January 25, 2010 at 11:21 am

    Great, interesting, disturbing, shocking article Ruby. The rich are still getting richer and the poor poorer. I know you can live off that kind of money if you really had to, but come on. What makes me sick is the game shows that can give away £10,000 for nothing, when an advert for child poverty has just been on before hand! It doesn’t make sense.

  6. drelayaraja

    On January 25, 2010 at 11:27 am

    Wonderful and thoughtful share

  7. Brenda Nelson

    On January 25, 2010 at 11:36 am

    I lived in poverty for some time. My first husband had died (no insurance or anything other than a widows pension and orphan benefit of $480 a month at that time). I worked part time for minimum wage.

    The best thing was that before he died we had bought a house and had a really low mortgage, better than renting would have been.

    You eat lots of soup, dont have cable, or the internet,and learn how to live with less. It can be done but most people are not willing to make the cuts they need until it is too late.

  8. Darla Beck

    On January 25, 2010 at 11:45 am

    Interesting article.

  9. johnnydod

    On January 25, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    Very very interesting

  10. moneynwealth

    On January 25, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    It’s a federal guideline? Are they living in a fantasy world?

    great day! @ money and wealth strategy

  11. Rana Sinha

    On January 25, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    Very interesting point. Many people manage fine with small incomes and can afford to be very generous and hospitable, while people with large incomes are often mean, stingy and always complaining.

    Recently the new, young chairman of the social democratic party in Finland shocked everybody when she flippantly said that anybody earning less than 3850 euros/month (5400 US dollars/month) was poor. There were furious protests from people like single mothers making only one third of that per month in full time jobs.

  12. lovenluck

    On January 25, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    wow great bit of research done on the article, very informative

  13. Night Story

    On January 25, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    Very Interesting. Thanks, Ruby. :)

  14. Hyneman

    On January 25, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    WOW! A intersesting article. Times are hard and I believe that now people need to start their own businesses to be “successful” Jobs no longer care and people need to be proactive about their futures…

  15. Guy Hogan

    On January 25, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    Oh, I’m poor alright. There’s no doubt about it. I’ve known for some time.

  16. LoveDoctor

    On January 25, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    These statistics are shocking! All those figures are very very low even for a family of two. I can’t imagine how hard it must be if there are children too or if the mothers are single mothers.

  17. ken bultman

    On January 25, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    I need to check my figures. Seems I’m in some sort of violation here.

  18. Christine Ramsay

    On January 25, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    This seems a very low income to be above the poverty line. I wonder if we have something like this in England. I must look into it. A good piece.


  19. Snooky

    On January 25, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    Funny how the government draws thier mean charts of gross and net to fluctuate in thier favor. Government charts and guideline are on a perpetual slide with the poor folks always
    ” going down”

  20. Val Mills

    On January 25, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    Not sure how average pay and exchange rates go there, but we have similar guidelines here in NZ. It’s not until one has to live differently that you realise just how well some people cope.

  21. 8Shei8

    On January 25, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    It is not so much the money you earn, it is what you do with that money. Most people do not know how to save and spend more money than what they earned.
    Great insight Ruby!

  22. Judy Kaelin

    On January 25, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    Ruby, Excellent article, It’s sad that the “greatest generation” is almost gone. Those that made it through two world wars, could really teach us all a lesson. I’m thankful my parents taught us how to be a little more furgal. I feel sorry for those that will have to endure the coming years. I hope there is something left for our kids and grandkids.

  23. Shirley Shuler

    On January 25, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    Excellent article, Ruby. How can such low incomes be above the poverty line, again, wonders never cease to amaze me.


    On January 25, 2010 at 8:06 pm


  25. Paul Roberts

    On January 25, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    Great article, Ruby. Shocking for some, reality check for others. I never knew I was poor until someone pointed out to me. Never give up though , never give up. Friend, fan, smile

  26. PR Mace

    On January 25, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    Well researched article. How sad that our government thinks people can live on this and raise a family. My husband did not get his annual cost of living raise on his military retirement check. He received a letter telling him the cost of living had not gone up. Has anyone else seen the cost of living go down or are you seeing it go up as we have? Sometimes I can’t believe the world we live in and what our government does.

  27. Judy Sheldon

    On January 25, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    As a customer service rep for a utility co. this is something I deal with daily, trying to assist customers who are at or below poverty, and I am pretty darned close myself. lol

  28. Eunice Tan

    On January 25, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    What an article. Make us think deeply.

  29. Inna Tysoe

    On January 25, 2010 at 11:19 pm

    Thanks for that. But the AFDC program no longer exists; it’s been replaced by the TANF block grant. Under TANF states have the option to get flexibility for the populations they will serve and several have been targeting mothers with children that make less than the federal poverty level.

  30. Linda Lori

    On January 26, 2010 at 3:07 am

    Well written. Great info. Thanks!

  31. kevalavek

    On January 26, 2010 at 3:53 am

    thanks for sharing

  32. albert1jemi

    On January 26, 2010 at 5:37 am

    thats a great share

  33. Intuitive

    On January 26, 2010 at 8:00 am

    this would be poverty in the west, but many a people of other nations live on less than a dollar a day, that is horrible poverty.

  34. bailieman

    On January 26, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    Cannot comment on the American system but one thing remains constant in all countries and that is the widening gap between the Haves and Have Nots.

  35. chitragopi

    On January 26, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    Interesting revelation

  36. BullwinkleMuse

    On January 26, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    I’m honestly beginning to think that government-defined poverty levels are a subtle form of conditioning. It’s as though the less fortunate are gradually being conditioned to accept just how much less, and less, and less fortunate they need to be in order to qualify as ‘less fortunate’. In the meantime, as previously stated, the gap widens.

  37. MCA

    On January 27, 2010 at 1:43 am

    thanks for sharing such a nice article

  38. fishfry aka Elizabeth Figueroa

    On January 27, 2010 at 11:30 pm

    Great article, and it is so true, that so many of the baby boomers are getting ready to retire and since they only had 1 maybe 2 children, Social Security is going to run out.
    Someone once told me:there is nothing, social or secure about Social Security.
    What kills me, are the people who have the money, but they don’t claim it………..they get WIC, Food Stamps, Welfare and housing, and then they pay for toliet paper and paper towels with a 100 dollar bill. Go figure.
    The poverty level is screwy, and it is so far in the red, that it is impossible to fix, especially during a time where jobs are hard to come by for professionals.
    BTW the jobs are out there, it is just that NOBODY is willing to take a paycut…………….I started working in a Supermarket, making pennies compared to what I use to make, but I am grateful, and that is because I am willing to do what I must.
    Awesome article.

  39. miraj

    On January 28, 2010 at 5:34 am

    This article straightened me up.made me re-think my materialistic desires.

  40. Leonardo da Vinci E.

    On January 28, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    The debate for my mind this year will be: If your life is enclosed by poverty can you make use of the quality which we promote called “Freedom or is it really beyound ones reach making one vunerable to the whims of those who possess wealth, and does having a solid safety net mean that people are solidly free to withdraw from tyrannical bosses, unsafe jobs etc.” During the Clinton administration in a deal with the devil, the Republicans successfully dismantled the viability of the U.S. safety-net, and hindsight being 20/20 we find that during a recession that the current status is not handling the emergencies that are coming forth (Not to mention that also they almost privitized social security, which would have doomed the retired during this new failure of the economic system).

  41. athena goodlight

    On February 3, 2010 at 3:43 am

    Perhaps the ones determining the poverty level should experience living under minimum wage and won’t get any food stamps for a month so they would know the consequences of their decisions.

    Great eye-opener article!

  42. pearl2010

    On February 17, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    Great Information.

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