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Social Security Trustees’ Report Illustrates Challenges for Next President and Congress

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

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Washington, D.C. – The new Social Security trustees’ report warns yet again that the program is facing financial challenges that the next president and Congress will need to address, Steve Bell, senior director of the Economic Policy Project at the Bipartisan Policy Center, said Wednesday.

According to the new report, the Social Security’s Old Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund, which currently provides benefits to 49 million beneficiaries, will be unable to pay benefits as scheduled by 2035. The smaller Disability Insurance program, which provides benefits to 11 million disabled workers and their dependents, will be facing the same crisis even sooner: in 2023.

“The Social Security trustees have again warned us that the program is on unstable financial footing. If policymakers neglect their responsibility to act, it isn’t just a problem for younger workers—even Americans retiring today would see their Social Security benefits reduced by up to 23 percent during their lifetimes. The next president and Congress must find realistic solutions to prevent these cuts,” Bell said.

The trustees emphasize that time is running out to address this problem in a deliberate manner. The report states that, “if substantial actions are deferred for several years, the changes necessary to maintain Social Security solvency would be concentrated on fewer years and fewer generations. Much larger changes would be necessary if action is deferred until the combined trust fund reserves become depleted in 2034.”

Earlier this month, BPC’s Commission on Retirement Security and Personal Savings released a plan to make Social Security solvent for the next 75 years and beyond as part of a bipartisan package to improve retirement security in America. The final recommendations of the commission were endorsed by 18 ideologically diverse commissioners, including former government officials, policy experts, and leaders from both the labor and business communities.

Social Security is particularly important for lower-earning workers, who depend upon the program for the significant majority of their retirement income. The commission’s recommendations would not only protect these individuals—the policies would actually expand benefits beyond the current schedule for those who need it most.

“The warning of the trustees is a reminder that Social Security is an issue the next president and Congress cannot afford to ignore. But as BPC’s commission demonstrates, this problem can be fixed responsibly—all we need is the leadership to get it done,” Bell said.

Steve Bell and Shai Akabas, associate director of economic policy, are available for comment.

KEYWORDS: STEVE BELL, SHAI AKABAS, SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY INSURANCE, SOCIAL SECURITY, COMMISSION ON RETIREMENT SECURITY AND PERSONAL SAVINGS, OLD-AGE AND SURVIVOR'S INSURANCE TRUST FUND