Government Report: Medicare and Social Security Insolvency Looming on Horizon

According to the annual Social Security Board of Trustees report, the year when the combined trust fund reserves are projected to become depleted (if Congress does not act before then, they optimistically remind us), is 2034 - the same as projected last year.

Medicare's Hospital Insurance Trust Fund, which is known as Medicare Part A and covers inpatient care for older Americans, will be depleted in 2026, three years earlier than projected last year.

The projections are the first from the administration since Trump signed a $1.5 trillion tax cut into law in December.

More than 60 million Americans benefit from both programs, which provide a guaranteed income and healthcare for many retirees and the disabled.

The report did not change its insolvency date for Social Security, projecting it has enough funding until 2034.

For Medicare, the coffers are expected to be empty in 2026, just eight years from now.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who also serves as a trustee for both programs, admitted there were "long-term issues", but dismissed concerns about the programs' future solvency. Yesterday, the Social Security Administration (SSA) released its annual Trustees Report, which indicated that while the program remained strong in 2017, improvements should be made to ensure that full costs and benefits are payable into the foreseeable future and beyond.

But federal deficits keep rising, and the recent Republican tax-cut bill is only expected to add to the debt. Charles Schumer of NY, the Democratic leader. It will decline further to about 2.2 by 2035, when most baby boomers will have retired, officials said. In our aging society, all of that will have to occur in the context of a growing ratio between retirees and the working-age population.

Additionally, President Trump's decision to end a program offering young undocumented immigrants reprieve from deportation while allowing them to work reduced anticipated tax revenue into the Social Security program. That works out to about $31 a 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. The system's costs exceeded its income in 1982, but a bipartisan compromise the following year led to additional revenue and benefit reductions.

Vanessa Coleman

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