You are here: Social Security Administration > Research, Statistics & Policy Analysis > Population Projection: Divorced Spousal Beneficiaries in 2050

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

Methodology »
Released: August 2021
Next expected update: 2023

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 10 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 three-fifths of 1 percent of all beneficiaries aged 62 or older will be divorced spousal beneficiaries. a
  • More than 80 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
Chart. Title: Population Characteristics: Percentage with characteristic. Pie chart series with tabular version below.
Show as table
Table equivalent for chart: Population Characteristics
Characteristic Divorced spousal beneficiaries aged 62 or older Beneficiaries aged 62 or older
Number of beneficiaries 484,000 82.3 million
Women 83% 53%
Race/ethnicity  
White 62% 63%
Black 8% 10%
All other races 14% 8%
Hispanic origin 16% 19%
Below 100% of the poverty threshold  
Scheduled benefits 17% 4%
Payable benefits 33% 7%
Chart. Title: Lifetime Shared Earnings: Percentage of divorced spousal beneficiaries aged 62 or older in quintile. Bar chart with tabular version below.
Show as table
Table equivalent for chart: Lifetime Shared Earnings
Lifetime shared earnings quintile Percentage of divorced spousal beneficiaries aged 62 or older in quintile
Lowest 37
Second lowest 26
Middle 18
Second highest 12
Highest 7
Chart. Title: Median Credits Earned: Number. Bar chart with tabular version below.
Show as table
Table equivalent for chart: Median Credits Earned: Number
Lifetime shared earnings quintile Divorced spousal beneficiaries aged 62 or older Beneficiaries aged 62 or older
Lowest 47 85
Second lowest 106 147
Middle 134 169
Second highest 125 179
Highest 100 191

a. Divorced spousal beneficiaries will have been married to their ex-spouse, at the median, for 22 years (22 years for women and 20 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 8 (MINT8) microsimulation model using 2019 Trustees Report intermediate assumptions.