The Self-Sufficiency Standard

The Self-Sufficiency Standard (SSS) defines how much income a family of a certain composition in a given place needs to adequately meet their basic needs – without public or private assistance. The SSS highlights the challenges faced by low-income residents and has proven to be a useful tool for service providers, researchers, policy-makers, and advocates.

NEW! 2023 Montgomery County Self-Sufficiency Standard

The Center for Women's Welfare at the University of Washington School of Social Work developed this new report in collaboration with the Montgomery County Community Action Agency. This report includes the County's Self-Sufficiency Standard for numerous family types, an explanation of how the Standard is calculated, comparisons of the Standard with other measures of the costs of living, and information about services, including County-specific programs that help thousands get closer to the Self-Sufficiency Standard. The full report is available for download by clicking on the graphic below.


2023 Montgomery County Self-Sufficiency Standard Report2023 Montgomery County Self-Sufficiency Standard Report

Self-Sufficiency Standard Handout
Self Sufficiency Standard Handout

2023 Maryland Self-Sufficiency Standard Calculator

The Maryland Community Action Partnership, in collaboration with the University of Washington Center for Women's Welfare, developed this new calculator, which allows users to explore the SSS for any county in the state, along with the City of Baltimore. Use the dropdown menus to select the location and family composition you would like to view. Additional tabs allow users to compare the SSS in different parts of the state, and compare the SSS to other measures.

Maryland Self-Sufficiency Standard Calculator


Understanding the Self-Sufficiency Standard

In this video, Lisa Manzer, Director of the Center for Women’s Welfare at the University of Washington, explains why the Standard is a more accurate measure of the cost of living than the Official Poverty Measure, and provides a demonstration of how to use Maryland Community Action Partnership’s 2023 Self-Sufficiency Standard Calculator. The video highlights the Standard by specific family compositions in Montgomery County, and compares them to surrounding localities and other benchmarks.