You are here: Social Security Administration > Research, Statistics & Policy Analysis > Population Projection: Spousal-Only 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

Spousal-Only Beneficiaries in 2050

Methodology »
Released: August 2021
Next expected update: 2023

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:

  • Almost 3 percent of all beneficiaries aged 62 or older will be spousal only and about three-fourths of spousal-only beneficiaries aged 62 or older will be women.
  • The poverty rate will be lower 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
Chart. Title: Population Characteristics: Percentage with characteristic. Pie chart series with tabular version below.
Show as table
Table equivalent for chart: Population Characteristics
Characteristic Spousal-only beneficiaries aged 62 or older Beneficiaries aged 62 or older
Number of beneficiaries 2.3 million 82.3 million
Women 76% 53%
Race/ethnicity  
White 39% 63%
Black 5% 10%
All other races 19% 8%
Hispanic origin 38% 19%
Below 100% of the poverty threshold  
Scheduled benefits 2% 4%
Payable benefits 3% 7%
Chart. Title: Lifetime Shared Earnings: Percentage of spousal-only beneficiaries aged 62 or older in quintile. Bar chart with tabular version below.
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Table equivalent for chart: Lifetime Shared Earnings
Lifetime shared earnings quintile Percentage of spousal-only beneficiaries aged 62 or older in quintile
Lowest 66
Second lowest 14
Middle 7
Second highest 7
Highest 5
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 Spousal-only beneficiaries aged 62 or older Beneficiaries aged 62 or older
Lowest 12 85
Second lowest 17 147
Middle 22 169
Second highest 25 179
Highest 24 191

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 8 (MINT8) microsimulation model using 2019 Trustees Report intermediate assumptions.