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Social Security to tap reserves to cover 2018 benefits

09 June 2018, 09:14 | Winifred Adams

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is one of the trustees overseeing Medicare

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is one of the trustees overseeing Medicare

Medicare will run out of money sooner than expected, and Social Security's financial problems can't be ignored either, the government said Tuesday in a sobering checkup on programs vital to the middle class.

At this rate, the combined asset reserves of Social Security's twin retirement and disability trust funds would become depleted by 2034, the same as projected a year ago, with 79% of the benefits payable at that time, according to the report. For example, fewer new disability claims have been registered in recent years than previously expected, so the Social Security trust fund for that portion of the program will not be depleted until 2032, rather than 2028.

His $1.5 trillion tax cut program reduced expected revenues for the two programs over coming years, The Wall Street Journal reported.

More than 60 million Americans benefit from both programs, which provide a guaranteed income and healthcare for many retirees and the disabled.

In 16 years, Social Security will have to cut benefits by 21% if lawmakers do nothing to cure the program's long-term funding shortfall. Democrats insist that the programs would remain solvent as long as the rich pay their "fair share", while Republicans claim that they simply need to eliminate "waste, fraud, and abuse" in the federal budget. That means the government will have to dip into the trust fund to keep paying benefits in full.

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"The continued delay in enacting legislative repairs renders effective solutions more elusive and poses particular risks to economically vulnerable populations", Charles Blahous and Robert Reischauer, both former public trustees of the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds, wrote in a joint report published by the Bipartisan Policy Center in advance of the trustees report.

Cubanski also said that Americans with higher incomes and more lucrative Social Security benefits will benefit from federal tax cuts that will lower paycheck deductions.

The trustees also expect Medicare spending "will increase in future years at a faster pace than either aggregate workers' earnings or the economy overall".

"The current trajectories in health spending are both unsustainable and unmatched by increases in quality", Alex Azar, the secretary of health and human services and a trustee of Medicare and Social Security, said Tuesday. The trustees project that Medicare costs will grow from about 3.7 percent of GDP in 2017 to 5.8 percent by 2038, and will continue to rise to about 6.2 percent of GDP by 2092.



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