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Tribal Income Eligibility

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Tribal Income Eligibility

Tribes must set LIHEAP income eligibility standards within the maximums and minimums established by law. The LIHEAP statute [(Section 2605(b)(2)(B) or Assurance 2] says that to be eligible a household must have an income that does not exceed the greater of 150 percent of the federal poverty guideline (FPG) or 60 percent of the state median income (SMI) level. (The FPG is the baseline of 100 percent of federal poverty, adjusted each year by the federal government.) In addition, income eligibility levels may not be set below 110 percent of the FPG. The federal government establishes the FPG and SMI poverty guidelines annually and publishes updates in the Federal Register each winter.

Tribes may adopt the year's new guidelines at any time between the date of publication in the Federal Register and the first day of the next fiscal year or by the beginning of the grantee's fiscal year, whichever is later. For LIHEAP, the majority of grantees use the prior year guidelines until the first day of the next fiscal year in order to avoid changing guidelines in the middle of their program year.

Section C of the Tribal Manual contains some information on how to adjust poverty income guidelines to different percentage levels. The FPG and SMI guidelines in effect for most tribes as of the beginning of FY 2016 are here: