HHS Releases Updated State Income Guidelines

May 24, 2013 — In mid-May, the US Department of Health and Human Services published updated guidelines for the state median income (SMI) to be used in fiscal year 2014. SMI is one of the income criteria that LIHEAP grantees can use in determining household eligibility.

Derived from the US Census Bureaus "American Community Survey," the new SMI figures become effective any time between their publication date and either October 1, 2013 (the beginning of the 2014 federal fiscal year) or the beginning of the grantees' 2014 fiscal year, whichever is later. According to LIHEAP regulations, grantees can establish the maximum household income for LIHEAP eligibility at either 150 percent of federal poverty guidelines or 60 percent of SMI. During FY 2013, 14 states and the District of Columbia used 60 percent of SMI, while Minnesota used 50 percent of SMI.

While SMI can be used as a LIHEAP criteria, it also shows the disparity in income across the country, revealing that the top two states had incomes of almost twice those of the bottom two in FY 2013. As the graph below illustrates, the numbers for FY 2014 are similar.

Sources: US Department of Health and Human Services, LIHEAP Clearinghouse, Federal Register