September 21, 2018

Social Security says system's costs will exceed income this year

06 June 2018, 04:56 | Silvia Roy

This year, the program's cost will outstrip total income by $2 billion and non-interest income by $85 billion, the report said.

The Social Security program's costs are expected to exceed its income this year, marking the first time that has happened since 1982 and forcing the US government to dip into the retirement system's trust fund to pay benefits to participants.

Income to the Medicare fund is expected to be lower than estimated a year ago because of "lower payroll taxes attributable to lowered wages in 2017 and lower levels of projected gross domestic product", the Treasury said in a "fact sheet" accompanying the report.

"The programs remain secure", Mnuchin said.

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Meanwhile, higher benefit payouts mean Social Security will have to dip into its almost $3 trillion trust fund for the first time since 1982 - and trustees warned the program would be insolvent by 2034.

The combined Social Security trust funds are slated to run dry in 2034, and that will force benefits to be cut more than 20 percent.

In 2017, Medicare covered 58.4 million people, with 49.5 million older than 65.

This is because premium income and general revenue income are reset each year to cover the expected rise in costs.

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Excluding federal debt payments, Medicare and Social Security together make up about 40 percent of total U.S. government spending.

The Trustees' annual report comes amid a relentless push by the GOP-controlled Congress and the Trump administration to slash Social Security benefits-along with Medicare, Medicaid, and food stamps-after delivering $1.5 trillion in tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans.

Challenges for both programs are exacerbated by the aging of the baby boomer population, without an equivalent proportion of workers available to replace them in the workforce. The program's trustees said the shortfall trend could worsen in the decades to come. Or benefits could be cut by 21 percent for those who become eligible this year or later, said Tim Shaw, a senior policy analyst at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Despite the word "depletion", the trust fund will still be able to pay beneficiaries about three-quarters of their scheduled benefits after 2034.

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Many Democrats, meanwhile, argue the problem is that the programs aren't generous enough.

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