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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: March 2015
Next expected update: 2018

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 spouses' monthly benefit.

In 2050, we project that:

  • Just over 1 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 71% in lowest quintile, 12% in second lowest quintile, 7% in middle quintile, 5% in second highest quintile, and 6% 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 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.