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Population Projections

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

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

Survivor-Only Beneficiaries in 2050

Released: March 2015
Next expected update: 2018

DEFINITION: Survivor-only beneficiaries are individuals aged 60 or older who have not worked enough to qualify for Social Security retirement benefits on their own earnings records, but receive full or reduced survivor benefits solely based on the deceased spouse's earnings record. a

In 2050, we project that:

  • 86 percent of survivor-only beneficiaries aged 60 or older will be women.
  • The poverty rate will be higher for survivor-only beneficiaries compared with all beneficiaries aged 60 or older.
  • More than half of survivor-only beneficiaries will be aged 80 or older, making them among the oldest old of all beneficiaries.
  • Survivor-only beneficiaries will be disproportionately in low-earning households.
Population Characteristics
Percentage with characteristic
Pie chart series linked to data in table format.
Lifetime Shared Earnings
Percentage of survivor-only beneficiaries aged 60 or older in quintile
Bar chart showing 75% in lowest quintile, 9% in second lowest quintile, 7% in middle quintile, 5% in second highest quintile, and 4% in highest quintile.
Age Group
Percent of beneficiaries in group
Bar chart linked to data in table format.
Median Credits Earned
Number
Bar chart linked to data in table format.
a. To be fully insured for Social Security retirement benefits on their own earnings record, a worker must have 10 years (or 40 credits) of earnings. While reduced survivor benefits can be claimed starting at age 60, the earliest workers can claim a retired worker benefit is age 62.
SOURCE: Modeling Income in the Near Term, Version 7 (MINT7) microsimulation model using 2012 Trustees Report intermediate assumptions.