The Social Security Board of Trustees on Friday released its annual report outlining Social Security's financial health. The Trustees found that the combined assets of the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance trusts will be exhausted in 2036, at which point beneficiaries could expect to receive about 77% of scheduled benefits. The 2010 Trustee report concluded that the trusts would be exhausted in 2037.
The Disability Insurance Trust Fund, however, will be exhausted in 2018, according to the Trustee report, and at minimum, a reallocation of the payroll tax rate between OASI and DI will be necessary.
Costs for the OASDI program exceeded non-interest income in 2010 and will continue to do so in 2011. The Trustees expect costs will exceed income for the remaining 75-year period. Over the same period, the trust funds would require an additional $6.5 trillion in present value dollars to pay scheduled benefits.
“The current Trustees Report again reflects what we have long known to be true — we need changes to ensure the long-term solvency of Social Security and to restore younger workers' confidence in the program,” Michael Astrue, commissioner of Social Security, said in a statement. Astrue was supportive of the president's Work Incentive Simplification Proposal, which he said would be a "good start for bipartisan debate."
In a press briefing on the report, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis (left) said, "While trust fund income and earnings are projected to cover costs for a few years, the trust fund assets will ultimately be used to pay for benefits," according to prepared remarks.
"This is especially important as the unemployment rate remains unacceptably high," she added. "Loss of wage income has and continues to be devastating for working families across the country. But it also erodes the payroll tax base – the revenues from which are needed to pay current program benefits."
Solis named several efforts the Department of Labor is undertaking to improve the unemployment situation and create more revenue for Social Security and Medicare: including educating and training low-income youths through Job Corps; properly classifying workers to ensure they are paid and taxed correctly for the job they do; and partnering with "state and community-based organizations, business-serving associations, and economic development agencies to expand employment opportunities for people with disabilities."