Social Security's Financial Health Worsens (nytimes.com - Financial Year)
The Obama administration reported a significant deterioration in the financial outlook for Social Security on Monday, while stating that the financial condition of Medicare was stable but still unsustainable.
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The Social Security trust fund will be exhausted in 2033, three years sooner than projected last year, the administration said. And Medicare’s hospital insurance trust fund will be depleted in 2024, the same as last year’s estimate, it said.
“The projections in this year’s report are somewhat more pessimistic than last year’s projections,” Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said in issuing the annual report on the two programs, which together account for more than 35 percent of all federal spending.
The central message of the new report was the same as in recent years: the two programs are unsustainable without structural changes that have so far eluded Congress and the administration.
Social Security Commissioner Michael J. Astrue, a trustee of the two programs, said Social Security’s disability insurance program faced the most immediate threat, with its trust fund expected to run out of money in 2016, two years sooner than predicted last year.
For the disability program, as for Social Security over all, tax receipts would be sufficient to pay about 75 percent of promised benefits after the trust fund was exhausted.
The estimates, a perennial source of political ammunition in the debate over federal spending, debt and taxes, come as Republicans and Democrats are noisily blaming each other for the problems of the popular programs, which provide benefits to more than 55 million people.
The public trustees of the two programs, Charles P. Blahous III and Robert D. Reischauer, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office, summarized the situation in a joint statement.
“The Social Security outlook has worsened significantly relative to last year’s report,” they said. “By almost any objective measure, the financial health of the Social Security system has entered a concerning decline.”
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