Monday, July 24, 2017

Social Security’s Financial Outlook: The 2017 Update in Perspective

The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College has published a new issue brief, “Social Security’s Financial Outlook: The 2017 Update in Perspective,” by Alicia H. Munnell

The brief’s key findings are:
  • The 2017 Trustees Report shows very little change:
    • Social Security’s 75-year deficit rose slightly from 2.66 percent to 2.83 percent of payroll.
    • The deficit as a percentage of GDP remains at 0.9 percent.
    • Trust fund exhaustion is still 2034, after which payroll taxes still cover about three quarters of promised benefits.
  • The shortfall is manageable, but action should be taken soon to equitably share the burden among cohorts, restore public confidence, and give people time to adjust.
  • Proposed solutions range from “all benefit cuts” to “all tax increases.” For action to occur, policymakers need guidance from the public on the desired mix.


JoeTheEconomist said...


The shortfall (just the 75 year) one rose nearly 1.2 trillion. That is a breathtaking sum. It is more than the system collected in revenue. This means that we could have lowered benefits to zero for the entirety of 2016, and the system would have been in worse shape at the end of the year than it was at the start.

TheHill had a column yesterday or the day before that suggested that the improvement in the system's prospects were related to the delays in the claims processing.

Andrew G. Biggs said...

I'm not sure the Hill column is right, though it would be interesting if it was. I believe (based on a Steve Goss presentation at AEI a couple weeks ago) that DI APPLICATIONS were down sharply.An increased processing backlog would reduce the DI rolls, but shouldn't have much (or any effect) on applications.