No crisis with Social Security Trust Fund

Although barely covered, the Social Security Administration released its 2017 annual trustees report recently. Here are highlights:

— The asset reserves of the combined Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance Trust Funds increased by $35 billion in 2016 to a total of $2.85 trillion.

— The combined trust fund reserves are still growing. Beginning in 2022, the annual cost of the program is projected to exceed income.

— The year when the combined trust fund reserves are projected to become depleted, if Congress does not act, is 2034. At that time, there will be sufficient income coming in to pay 77 percent of scheduled benefits.

Contrary to what some say, the government did not “steal” the money (it is included in the general fund accounting). In fact, it makes interest on the trust fund. Over the past decades, there have been changes to the how the fund operates. But it is not in crisis.

The biggest complaint is the way the cost-of-living adjustment is calculated. But increasing payouts will deplete the fund faster, so be careful what you wish for. Numerous other changes have been proposed, but the political will does not seem to be there.

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