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Population Projections

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

  4.  Oldest 
  5.  Sporadic 
  6. Spousal-
  7. Survivor-
  8. Women
    & Dual

Spousal-Only Beneficiaries in 2050

Released: October 2012
Next expected update: Winter 2015

DEFINITION: Spousal-only beneficiaries are individuals who did not work at all or enough to qualify for Social Security retirement benefits on their own earnings records, but do qualify for one-half of their spouse's monthly benefit.

In 2050, we project that:

  • One percent of all beneficiaries aged 62 or older will be spousal only and more than three-fourths of spousal-only beneficiaries aged 62 or older will be women.
  • The poverty rate will be higher for spousal-only beneficiaries compared with all beneficiaries aged 62 or older.
  • Spousal-only beneficiaries will be disproportionately in low-earning households.
  • Spousal-only beneficiaries will earn some credits by 2050, but not enough to qualify for benefits on their own records.a
Population Characteristics
Percentage with characteristic
Pie chart series linked to data in table format.
Lifetime Shared Earnings
Percentage of spousal-only beneficiaries aged 62 or older in quintile
Bar chart showing 65% in lowest quintile, 13% in second lowest quintile, 9% in middle quintile, 8% in second highest quintile, and 5% in highest quintile.
Median Credits Earned
Bar chart linked to data in table format.
a. To be fully insured for Social Security retirement benefits, a worker must have 10 years (or 40 credits) of earnings.
SOURCE: Modeling Income in the Near Term, Version 6 (MINT6) microsimulation model using 2011 Trustees Report intermediate assumptions.