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Population Projections

  1. American
    Indians and
    Alaska Natives
  2. Early
    Eligibility Age
    Beneficiaries
  3.  Lifetime 
    Low
    Earners

  4.  Oldest 
    Old
  5.  Sporadic 
    Low
    Earners
  6. Spousal-
    Only
    Beneficiaries
  7. Survivor-
    Only
    Beneficiaries
  8. Women
    & Dual
    Entitlement

Sporadic Low Earners in 2050

Released: April 2014
Next expected update: Winter 2015

DEFINITION: In contrast to lifetime low earners, a sporadic low earner is a Social Security beneficiary aged 60 or older who:

  • is fully insured by age 61;
  • has at least 30 years of either no covered earnings or covered earnings at less than half the average wage;
  • has more than five years with zero earnings; and
  • was never disabled.

In 2050, we project that:

  • Six percent (5.1 million) of all beneficiaries aged 60 or older will be sporadic low earners.
  • Thirty-nine percent (2 million) of sporadic low earners will have earnings from non-covered work.
  • Of all sporadic low earners, just over half (2.8 million) will be native born.
  • Almost all immigrant sporadic low earners will arrive in the U.S. before age 50.
  • The poverty rate will be significantly higher for sporadic low earners compared to all beneficiaries aged 60 or older.
  • The median benefit for sporadic low earners will be 41 percent lower for women and 58 percent lower for men compared to all beneficiaries aged 60 or older.
Population Characteristics
Two simple pie charts. 6% of all beneficiaries aged 60 or older will be sporadic low earners. 39% of sporadic low earners will have earnings from non-covered work.
Immigrant Status
Pie chart with 3 slices. 55.2% of sporadic low earners will be native born. 43.4% will be early-arriving immigrants (under age 50). And 1.4% will be late-arriving immigrants (aged 50 or older).
Poverty Rates
Percentage below 100 percent of poverty
Bar chart. Sporadic low earners have a 11.4% poverty rate under scheduled benefits and 15.7% poverty rate under payable benefits. Beneficiaries aged 60 or older have a 1.9% poverty rate under scheduled benefits and 3.5% poverty rate under payable benefits.
Median Benefit by Sex
In 2012 dollars
Two bar charts. For sporadic low earners, under scheduled benefits, the median benefit for women will be $914 and for men will be $792. Under payable benefits, women will be $715 and men will be $619. For all beneficiaries aged 60 or older, under scheduled benefits, the median benefit for women will be $1,557 and for men will be $1,872. Under payable benefits, women wil be $1,218 and men will be $1,464.
SOURCE: Modeling Income in the Near Term, Version 6 (MINT6) microsimulation model using 2011 Trustees Report assumptions.