Is Social Security Going Broke?

Aug 16, 2016

How worried should you be over Social Security's future? According to the most recent Annual Report of the Board of the Social Security Trustees, the trust fund's assets are now $2.79 trillion. And the trustees estimate that the program's income -- made up mostly of payroll taxes, as well as interest on the reserves and taxes paid on benefits -- will exceed its expenses and should exceed Social Security obligations through 2019.

After 2019, Treasury will start spending down the fund; its reserves are estimated to be depleted by 2035. Even at that point, however, there will still be enough income coming into the program to pay 79% of the benefits owed.

These projections assume that no legislative changes are enacted -- but that seems unlikely, because Social Security is the major source of income for most of the elderly. To beef up Social Security, lawmakers could raise the limit on earnings subject to payroll tax, or increase the percentage of earnings that are taxed. There has also been talk of cutting or means-testing benefits -- that is, and of slowly raising the full retirement age.

So, bottom line: Social Security is not going broke entirely. And even where a shortfall is projected, a combination of policy adjustments could fix the funding issues that exist.

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