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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

Lifetime Low Earners in 2050

Released: June 2013
Next expected update: Summer 2014

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 earnings at or above four times the amount needed for one Social┬áSecurity quarterly credit and less than half of the national average wage index.

In 2050, we project that:

  • More than 2 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
  • Two percent of lifetime low earners will have household incomes below 100 percent of poverty.
Population Characteristics
Percentage with characteristic
Pie charts. 1,912,035 beneficiaries are lifetime low earners. 71% of lifetime low earners are women; 68% have a high school education or less, and 8% are disabled. 81,054,628 beneficiaries are aged 60 or older. 54% of beneficiaries aged 60 or older are women; 42% have a high school education or less, and 14% are disabled.
Paying AIME Quintile
Percentage of beneficiaries in quintile
Bar chart. 55% of lifetime low earners are in the lowest paying AIME quintile. 17% are in the second lowest. 9% are in the middle. 11% are in the second highest. And 7% are in the highest quintile. 20% of beneficiaries aged 60 or older are in each of the paying AIME quintiles.
Poverty Rates
Percentage below 100 percent of poverty
Bar chart. Lifetime low earners have a 1.8% poverty rate under scheduled benefits and 5.0% poverty rate under payable benefits. Beneficiaries aged 60 or older have a 1.9% poverty rate under scheduled benefits and 3.5% poverty rate under payable benefits.
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 6 (MINT6) microsimulation model using 2011 Trustees Report assumptions.