The Federal Poverty Level (FPL) calculation has not been updated in 60 years, leaving many Americans in need without benefits due to stringent income qualifications. On December 6th, 2023, legislation was introduced by Congressman Kevin Mullin (CA-15), proposing a much-needed modernization to the way the FPL is calculated.
The Poverty Line Act of 2023 (H.R. 6639) would better reflect what working families actually spend on necessary goods and services including housing, childcare, and healthcare. The updates would additionally adjust FPL calculations by region to account for differences in basic need costs, making millions more Americans eligible for vital assistance programs.
Additionally, the Poverty Line Act would:
- Prevent any individual from losing eligibility for a program based on the new calculation methodology if they were eligible under the old one;
- Ensure the poverty line is no lower than it is today anywhere in the country;
- Require the Office of Management and Budget to report to Congress on how federal law should be updated to reflect the new calculation where, for example, program eligibility is based on a percentage of the old poverty line; and
- Ensure that the new methodology is reviewed at least once every four years to determine whether it is still reflective of what households need to meet their basic needs and to identify additional changes needed in the future.
The Poverty Line Act is supported by United Way Worldwide and several other non-profit organizations. President of United Way Worldwide, Angela Williams, calls the Act, “necessary legislation that will help our communities thrive.” Williams adds, “This bill helps to ensure people, especially working families who are struggling, have access to critical programs that provide the necessary short- and long-term support and stability they need.”