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Population Projections

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

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

Divorced Spousal Beneficiaries in 2050

Released: February 2017
Next expected update: 2018

DEFINITION: Divorced spousal beneficiaries are individuals receiving all or part of their Social Security retirement or disability benefits from their ex-spouses' earnings records. Individuals are eligible for divorced spousal benefits if their marriage to their ex-spouse lasted for at least ten years. This group includes spousal-only beneficiaries, who receive benefits based only on their ex-spouses' earnings record, and dually entitled spousal beneficiaries, who also receive benefits based on their own earnings record.

In 2050, we project that:

  • About half of 1 percent of all beneficiaries aged 62 or older will be divorced spousal beneficiaries. a
  • Almost 90 percent of divorced spousal beneficiaries aged 62 or older will be women.
  • The poverty rate will be higher for divorced spousal beneficiaries compared with all beneficiaries aged 62 or older.
  • Divorced spousal beneficiaries will be disproportionately in low-earning households.
  • At the median, divorced spousal beneficiaries will have earned fewer credits than all beneficiaries aged 62 or older. However, only the dually entitled divorced spousal beneficiaries will have earned enough credits to also qualify for benefits on their own records. b
Population Characteristics
Percentage with characteristic
Pie chart series linked to data in table format.
Lifetime Shared Earnings
Percentage of divorced spousal beneficiaries aged 62 or older in quintile
Bar chart showing 33% in lowest quintile, 31% in second lowest quintile, 19% in middle quintile, 11% in second highest quintile, and 6% in highest quintile.
Median Credits Earned
Number
Bar chart linked to data in table format.
a. Divorced spousal beneficiaries will have been married to their ex-spouse, at the median, for 20 years (20 years for women and 18 years for men).
b. To be fully insured for Social Security retirement benefits, a worker must have at least 10 years (or 40 credits) of earnings.
SOURCE: Modeling Income in the Near Term, Version 7 (MINT7) microsimulation model using 2012 Trustees Report intermediate assumptions.