Social Security funds barreling toward insolvency without a fix

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Social Security’s trust funds are headed toward depletion, and without a fix from Congress, retirees will see steep payment cuts in less than a decade.

The annual Social Security trustees’ report this week said the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) trust fund is on track to reach insolvency in 2033, at which point benefits would be cut by 21%.

If Social Security’s Disability Insurance trust fund were combined with the OASI fund, which would require a change in the law, the funds would be able to pay the total scheduled benefits until 2035. But if reforms are not implemented by that time, payees can expect a 17% reduction in their checks.

Following the release of the report, President Biden issued a statement saying he “will keep strengthening Social Security” and that he is “committed to extending Social Security solvency by asking the highest-income Americans to pay their fair share without cutting benefits or privatizing Social Security.”

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The president accused congressional Republicans of wanting to cut Social Security and increase the retirement age.

biden making campaign speech

The U.S. has an aging population, more than 67 million of whom receive Social Security benefits. And the older an American is, the more likely they are to vote, so many politicians shy away from discussing reforms of the program at all.

But if no reforms are made, the same Americans who receive Social Security benefits now – particularly those who rely on the benefits – face a significant threat to their income come 2033.

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GOP Rep. David Schweikert of Arizona, vice chair of Congress’ Joint Economic Committee, also issued a statement after the report dropped, warning that current Social Security recipients are at risk and urging Republicans and Democrats to come together to work out a fix.

Rep. David Schweikert during an interview

“The Social Security Trustees Report confirms that it’s no longer just future generations who should be concerned about receiving their full earned benefits but rather current retirees, too,” Schweikert said. “As our nation’s fiscal health continues to deteriorate, Congress refuses to live up to its moral obligation to protect and modernize Social Security and Medicare. It’s past time for the political class to put aside their talking points and start working on bipartisan solutions to save these programs for our seniors …before it’s too late.”

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Nonpartisan groups weighed in on the report, too, pressing federal lawmakers to address the looming shortfalls.

“We have long known that Social Security is on an unsustainable financial path,” said Jason Fichtner, chief economist at the Bipartisan Policy Center. “Today’s Social Security Trustees Report marks yet another year of inaction by lawmakers to protect this crucial program on which so many Americans depend.”

“Too few politicians are willing to propose serious reforms and make the difficult choices needed to strengthen and save the program,” Fichtner continued. “Instead, leading voices on both sides of the aisle have buried their heads in the sand, proposing purely partisan policies or vowing not to touch the program.”

Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, also issued a statement, saying, “The absurd part is that we’ve known insolvency was looming for quite some time. We’re driving straight into this mess despite all the warning bells and alarms that the Trustees and others have been ringing for decades now.”

“Many political leaders in both parties, from the top on down, would rather demagogue the issue than actually fix it.”

“As we head into peak campaign season, it is our job as Americans and the voting public to ensure that we demand President Biden and President Trump present us with a realistic, detailed plan to avert trust fund insolvency,” MacGuineas said. “And they need to work with Congress to implement a plan. Time is running out.”

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