Social Security Outlook Dims

An annual report by the Social Security and Medicare Board of Trustees indicates the financial downturn has worsened the long-range financial outlook of the system.

According to a release from the Social Security Administration, in the annual report to Congress, the trustees announced:

  • The projected point at which tax revenues will fall below program costs comes in 2016— one year sooner than the estimate in last year’s report.
  • The projected point at which the trust funds will be exhausted comes in 2037—four years sooner than the estimate in last year’s report.
  • The projected actuarial deficit over the 75-year long-range period is 2% of taxable payroll—up from 1.7% in last year’s report.
  • Over the 75-year period, the Trust Funds would require additional revenue equivalent to $5.3 trillion in today’s dollars to pay all scheduled benefits.

“As with the economy as a whole, the Social Security system will weather this recession. However, the sooner we get on with the task of reforming the system, the easier it will be to make the tough choices that we all know we need to make,” Commissioner Michael Astrue said in the release.

Labor Secretary Statement

Following the trustees’ meeting, U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis said in a statement: “Today’s report is a wake-up call and reminder of the importance to ensure that this social safety-net is available to all Americans and future generations.”

Speaking about the Social Security report, Solis said, “[T]he dual effect of the economy and unemployment has produced a downward pressure on the financial security of the program. The economy, however, is showing some improvement. The best thing we can do is to continue our policies to help our economy grow.

“As people return to the workforce, there will be a positive effect on the financial solvency of the trust fund. Investing in our nation’s workforce and creating a positive environment for new jobs are critical components of our efforts to get our economy back on the right track.”

About Medicare, Solis said: “The rising costs of Medicare highlight the need for comprehensive health care reforms to lower health costs, guarantee choice of doctor, and assure high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans. These reforms are also necessary to reduce health care costs to employers, leading to more jobs with better pay.