Social Security expenditures exceeded the program’s non-interest income in 2010 for the first time since 1983. The $49 billion deficit last year (excluding interest income) and $46 billion projected deficit in 2011 are in large part due to the weakened economy and to downward income adjustments that correct for excess payroll tax revenue credited to the trust funds in earlier years. This deficit is expected to shrink to about $20 billion for years 2012-2014 as the economy strengthens. After 2014, cash deficits are expected to grow rapidly as the number of beneficiaries continues to grow at a substantially faster rate than the number of covered workers. Through 2022, the annual cash deficits will be made up by redeeming trust fund assets from the General Fund of the Treasury. Because these redemptions will be less than interest earnings, trust fund balances will continue to grow. After 2022, trust fund assets will be redeemed in amounts that exceed interest earnings until trust fund reserves are exhausted in 2036, one year earlier than was projected last year. Thereafter, tax income would be sufficient to pay only about three-quarters of scheduled benefits through 2085.Who knew? And why are reporters treating this as a distant problem?
Under current projections, the annual cost of Social Security benefits expressed as a share of workers’ taxable wages will grow rapidly from 11-1/2 percent in 2007, the last pre-recession year, to roughly 17 percent in 2035, and will then dip slightly before commencing a slow upward march after 2050. . .
Medicare costs (including both HI and SMI expenditures) are projected to grow substantially from approximately 3.6 percent of GDP in 2010 to 5.5 percent of GDP by 2035, and to increase gradually thereafter to about 6.2 percent of GDP by 2085.
The projected 75-year actuarial deficit in the HI Trust Fund is 0.79 percent of taxable payroll, up from 0.66 percent projected in last year’s report. The HI fund fails the test of short-range financial adequacy, as projected assets drop below one year’s projected expenditures early in 2011. The fund also continues to fail the long-range test of close actuarial balance. Medicare’s HI Trust Fund is expected to pay out more in hospital benefits and other expenditures than it receives in income in all future years. The projected date of HI Trust Fund exhaustion is 2024, five years earlier than estimated in last year’s report, at which time dedicated revenues would be sufficient to pay 90 percent of HI costs.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Least Surprising News of the Week
The latest Social Security Trustees Report: