You are here: Social Security Administration > Research, Statistics & Policy Analysis > Population Projection: Lifetime Low Earners 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

Lifetime Low Earners in 2050

Methodology »
Released: August 2021
Next expected update: 2023

DEFINITION: We are defining a lifetime low earner as a Social Security beneficiary aged 60 or older who has at least 30 years of work with each year's earnings at or above four times the amount needed for one Social Security quarterly credit and less than half of the national average wage index.

In 2050, we project that:

  • Almost 3 percent of beneficiaries aged 60 or older will be lifetime low earners.
  • More lifetime low earners will be women and have a high-school education or less compared with all beneficiaries aged 60 or older.
  • Fewer lifetime low earners will be disabled compared with all beneficiaries aged 60 or older.
  • More than half of lifetime low earners will be in the lowest paying average indexed monthly earnings (AIME) quintile. a
  • Over 5 percent of lifetime low earners will have household incomes below 100 percent of poverty.
Chart. Title: Population Characteristics: Percentage with characteristic. Pie chart series with tabular version below.
Show as table
Table equivalent for chart: Population Characteristics
Characteristic Lifetime low earners Beneficiaries aged 60 or older
Number of beneficiaries 2.4 million 83.6 million
Women 75% 53%
High school education or less 64% 41%
Race/ethnicity  
White 62% 63%
Black 13% 10%
All other races 4% 8%
Hispanic origin 21% 19%
Disabled 8% 12%
Chart. Title: Paying AIME Quintile: Percentage of beneficiaries in quintile. Bar chart with tabular version below.
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Table equivalent for chart: Paying AIME Quintile
Paying AIME quintile Percentage of beneficiaries in quintile
Lowest 56
Second lowest 19
Middle 8
Second highest 10
Highest 7
Chart. Title: Poverty Rates: Percentage below 100 percent of poverty. Bar chart with tabular version below.
Show as table
Table equivalent for chart: Poverty Rates: Percentage below 100 percent of poverty
Under— Lifetime low earners Beneficiaries aged 60 or older
Scheduled benefits 5.6 4.0
Payable benefits 13.4 6.8

a. The paying AIME is the AIME of the higher-earning spouse if an individual receives a spousal or survivor benefit or the individual's own AIME if they only receive their own work benefit.

SOURCE: Modeling Income in the Near Term, Version 8 (MINT8) microsimulation model using 2019 Trustees Report intermediate assumptions.