The total annual cost of Social Security is projected to surpass total income this year for the first time since 1982, the program’s board of trustees said in its annual report.
At this rate, the combined asset reserves of Social Security’s twin retirement and disability trust funds would become depleted by 2034, the same as projected last year, with 79% of the benefits payable at that time, according to the report.
Those scenarios, of course, assume that Congress does not act in the interim, which many industry observers have said for years is unlikely. The two most commonly cited fixes are higher retirement ages and higher taxes.
The projected depletion date for the Old-Age and Survivors Trust Fund was moved up to late 2034 from last year’s estimate of early 2035, and after depletion is projected to pay 77% of benefits. The depletion date for the Disability Insurance Trust Fund, meanwhile, was extended to 2032 from last year’s estimate of 2028, with 96% of benefits still payable, according to the report.
Social Security paid more than $941 billion in benefits last year. At the end of 2017, the program had about 62 million beneficiaries.