Medicine

Social Security and Medicare annual report warns of coming crisis

Social Security and Medicare annual report warns of coming crisis

Medicare's Board of Trustees blamed the earlier depletion forecast on expectations of lower payroll taxes and less revenue from taxing Social Security benefits, both the result of the tax overhaul signed by President Donald Trump previous year, according to a senior administration official.

Social Security's Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund, and Disability Insurance Trust Fund will be depleted in 2034, the same year projected in last year's report.

"However, certain long-term issues persist", the statement added.

When, inevitably, the United States does not grow its way out of this problem, revenue will have to be raised, and Social Security and Medicare may face sudden, sharp cuts along with other worthy programs: defense, research, infrastructure.

Still, tax collections would be sufficient to pay about three-fourths of promised benefits for a half-century. Social Security and Medicare probably will never run out of money, in the sense that no Congress or president would let benefit checks be cut.

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

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The trustees urged Congress to consider options to reduce or eliminate the long-term financing shortfalls in Social Security and Medicare "as soon as possible".

Medical costs have long outpaced economic growth, and despite some slowdowns in cost over the past few years, that has not changed.

"When Congressional Republicans sold their tax scam to the American people they left out the fact that while the windfalls mostly line the pockets of corporations and the wealthy, the deficits they used to pay for them will fuel their threats to cut Social Security". The aging population has squeezed the program, pushing costs up and revenues down.

The annual Social Security cost of living adjustment for 2019 could top 3%, according to a just-released estimate by The Senior Citizens League, boosting the average Social Security benefit of $1,300 by about $39 per month.

At the same time, the monthly Medicare "Part B" premium for outpatient care paid by most beneficiaries is projected to rise by about $1.50, to $135.50.

Information for this article was contributed by Robert Pear of The New York Times, and by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Andrew Taylor of The Associated Press.


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