Any person with a previous marriage that ended in divorce is eligible if the ) selects the highest auxiliary benefit and compares it with the divorced woman's own retired-worker benefit.
If she is not entitled to a retired-worker benefit, she receives the full auxiliary benefit as a divorced spouse, surviving divorced spouse, or widow beneficiary.
Currently, only about 11 percent of women aged 65 or older are divorced and only 4 percent have never married.
According to recent data, around 20 percent of divorced women aged 65 or older live in poverty, compared with 18 percent of never-married women and 15 percent of widowed women.
This article uses the Social Security Administration's Modeling Income in the Near Term (version 6) to project the retirement resources and well-being of divorced women.
We find that Social Security benefits and retirement incomes are projected to increase for divorced women and that their poverty rates are projected to decline, due in large part to women's increasing lifetime earnings.
However, not all divorced women will be equally well off; economic well-being in retirement varies by Social Security benefit type. The findings and conclusions presented in the Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Social Security Administration or the Urban Institute, its trustees, or funders.
The high poverty rates of older widows have drawn the attention of policymakers and the media, and widows have been the focus of much of the research on older women's economic well-being (Angel, Jimenez, and Angel 2007; Mc Garry and Schoeni 2000; Sevak, Weir, and Willis 2003/2004; Weir and Willis 2000).
They can also receive widow benefits from a prior marriage that ended in widowhood.