Status of the Social Security and Medicare Programs

Past

In April of 1935, politicians passed the Social Security Act through the U.S. House and in June through the Senate; it was signed into law by President Roosevelt on August 14, 1935. [1]

Ida May Fuller became the first beneficiary of recurring monthly retirement payments on January 31, 1940, with a check for $22.54.  She had filed her retirement claim in November of 1939 after having paid a total of $24.75 in Social Security tax.  Living to age 100, she collected $22,888.92 in benefits.

Present

The 2019 Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees annual report projects that the theoretical combined OASDI trust funds will be depleted in 2034.

OASI is Old Age and Survivors Insurance and DI is Social Security Disability Insurance. Other components are Medicare Hospital Insurance (HI) and Supplementary Medical Insurance (SMI).

The  report projects that the OASI and HI Trust Funds will be depleted within 16 years; the anticipated depletion year for the DI Trust Fund is now 2052.

The table below shows key depletion dates for the respective trust funds and for the combined OASDI trust funds. [2]

a. Dates indicate the first year a condition is projected to occur and to persist annually thereafter through 2090.

Future?

After the depletion of reserves, continuing tax income would be sufficient to pay 80 percent of scheduled benefits in 2035, declining to 75 percent in 2093.

Though I do not expect to ring in 2093 – and may not even see 2035 – some of you will experience both.  If we do end up working until the day we die, let it be because we want to work, not because we have to work.

It’s unrealistic to believe that our current and near future federal politicians can hold themselves accountable for unsustainable promises made decades ago by their predecessors.  After all, to be elected and to remain in office they make plenty of outrageous claims of their own.

Our nation’s debt is now more than $22 trillion – that’s a 22 with 12 zeros behind it – and is growing by the second. [3]  Click here for images of how much that really is (scroll down slowly to get the full feel).

If Social Security happens to be there for you someday, that’s terrific!

But don’t bet your life on it.

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[1] A more detailed history is available from the Social Security Administration <https://www.ssa.gov/history/briefhistory3.html>

[2] Source: Status of the Social Security and Medicare Programs, Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees <https://www.ssa.gov/OACT/TRSUM/index.html> accessed 05/01/2019

[3] U.S. Debt Clock <https://usdebtclock.org>

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