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Social Security - benefits, incl. coverage


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[Opinion] Four Lessons from the Latest Social Security Trustees' Report
"[1] Social Security faces a huge financing shortfall.... [2] The shortfall is certain.... [3] We are running out of time to save Social Security, if we haven't already.... [4] We need public trustees." (Charles Blahous, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research)
2019 SSI Annual Report
"This report includes an Executive Summary as well as: [1] A comprehensive description of the SSI program; [2] 25 year projections of future recipients and program costs; [3] A historical summary of statutory changes to the SSI program; [4] Historical and current data relating to various aspects of the SSI program; and [5] Summaries of any relevant research on the SSI program by SSA or others." (U.S. Social Security Administration [SSA])
An Actuarial Perspective on the 2019 Social Security Trustees Report (PDF)
10 pages. "In order to achieve viability of Social Security in the foreseeable future, any modifications to the system should include sustainable solvency as a primary goal. Sustainable solvency means that not only will the program be solvent for the next 75 years under the reform methods adopted, but also that the trust fund reserves at the end of the 75-year period will be stable or increasing as a percentage of the annual program cost.... Providing for solvency beyond the next 75 years will require changes to address micro-aging, as beneficiaries will likely be receiving benefits for ever-longer periods of retirement." (American Academy of Actuaries)
Navigating the Social Security Earnings Test When One Spouse Is Retired
"The decision of when to begin taking Social Security benefits is one of the most important questions for many retirees. Unfortunately, thanks to the maze of Social Security rules individuals must navigate, it is often also one of the most complex. And while many retirees are aware that claiming Social Security benefits 'early' can lead to a reduced benefit, research has shown that fewer individuals understand the Earnings Test rules that can also impact benefits when a young (pre-Full-Retirement Age) worker decides to claim benefits while also still working." (Nerd's Eye View)
Earnings and Employment Data for Workers Covered Under Social Security and Medicare, by State and County, 2016
"The data show, by sex and age, the number of wage and salary workers and self-employed persons, the amount of their taxable earnings, and the amount they paid in Social Security and Medicare contributions." (U.S. Social Security Administration [SSA])
Social Security: The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO)
"The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO) are two separate provisions that reduce regular Social Security benefits for workers and their eligible family members if the worker receives (or is entitled to) a pension based on earnings from employment not covered by Social Security." [In Focus IF10203, updated May 14, 2019] (Congressional Research Service [CRS])
Social Security: The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) (PDF)
15 pages. "The windfall elimination provision (WEP) is a modified benefit formula that reduces the Social Security benefits of certain retired or disabled workers who are also entitled to pension benefits based on earnings from jobs that were not covered by Social Security and thus not subject to the Social Security payroll tax.... In December 2018, nearly 1.9 million people (or about 3% of all Social Security beneficiaries) were affected by the WEP." [Report 98-35, updated May 14, 2019] (Congressional Research Service [CRS])
Many Filed for Social Security Retirement Benefits Out of Necessity -- But Wish They Had Waited Until Later
"More than half (53%) filed out financial necessity, such as not saving enough, and another one-third (30%) filed as the result of unforeseen issues, such as health issues or employment changes.... In the simplest and most conservative cumulative calculation, a married couple with longevity into their early 90's could be leaving more than a half million dollars on the table -- or as much as $2,000-4,000 per month for life -- by filing for Social Security retirement benefits at age 62 versus filing at age 70. Furthermore, a surviving spouse could receive $1,000-2,000 per month less for life as a result of filing at age 62." (MassMutual)
Pre-Retirees Overestimate Social Security Benefits by 28%
"Pre-retirees, those within 10 years of retiring, expect they will receive $1,805 a month in Social Security benefits, but retirees actually collect an average of $1,408, a 28% difference ... Twenty-six percent believe they can live comfortably on Social Security alone, and 44% say that it will be their main source of retirement income." (planadviser)
Social Security Primer (PDF)
18 pages. "This report provides an overview of Social Security financing and benefits under current law. Specifically, the report covers the origins and a brief history of the program; Social Security financing and the status of the trust funds; how Social Security benefits are computed; the types of Social Security benefits available to workers and their family members; the basic eligibility requirements for each type of benefit; the scheduled increase in the Social Security retirement age; and the federal income taxation of Social Security benefits." [Report R42035, updated May 7, 2019] (Congressional Research Service [CRS])
Social Security's Funding Shortfall
"Social Security's projected long-range funding shortfall is driven largely by demographic factors. Declines in fertility and increases in longevity result in a lower ratio of workers to beneficiaries (projections show the ratio of workers paying into the system to support each beneficiary is estimated to fall from 2.8 in 2018 to 2.2 in 2035)." [Report IF10522, updated May 6, 2019] (Congressional Research Service [CRS])
How Social Security Benefits Are Computed: In Brief
11 pages. "The computation process involves three main steps: [1] a summarized measure of lifetime earnings is computed. That measure is called the average indexed monthly earnings (AIME). [2] a benefit formula is applied to the AIME to compute the primary insurance amount (PIA).... [3] an adjustment may be made based on the age at which a beneficiary chooses to begin receiving payments." [Report R43542, updated May 3, 2019] (Congressional Research Service [CRS])
Social Security Trust Fund Investment Practices
"Social Security tax revenues are invested in interest-bearing U.S. government obligations held by the Social Security trust funds, as required by law.... The effective interest rate earned on all obligations held by the trust funds in 2018 was 2.9%; the average interest rate on new special issues was 2.9%. The trust funds earned $83 billion in interest in 2018, representing 8.3% of Social Security's total income." [Report IF10564, updated May 3, 2019] (Congressional Research Service [CRS])
An Overview of Social Security
"176 million covered workers (and their employers) pay into the system. 63 million beneficiaries receive monthly cash benefits, including retired workers, disabled workers, spouses, children, and widow(er)s. It is a self-financing program, with 91.7% of its total income from dedicated tax revenues. Over its 84-year history, the program has collected $21.9 trillion and paid out $19.0 trillion, leaving trust fund asset reserves of more than $2.9 trillion. It is projected to be unable to pay full benefits starting in 2035, largely due to demographic factors." [IF10426 version 11, updated May 1, 2019] (Congressional Research Service [CRS])
Social Security Costs to Exceed Income in 2020, Trustees Say
"The new projection ... is rosier than one made in their 2018 annual report, which anticipated the program would run in the red by the end of last year. The improved forecast stems in part from the health of the labor market, which has boosted workers' paychecks and fueled higher tax revenue. But the programs' unsustainable long-term outlook is little changed from last year." (The Wall Street Journal; subscription may be required)
2019 OASDI Trustees Report (PDF)
270 pages. "The reserves of the combined OASI and DI Trust Funds along with projected program income are adequate to cover projected program cost over the next 10 years under the intermediate assumptions.... OASDI cost is projected to exceed total income starting in 2020, and the dollar level of the hypothetical combined trust fund reserves declines until reserves become depleted in 2035.... Considered separately, the OASI Trust Fund reserves become depleted in 2034 and the DI Trust Fund reserves become depleted in 2052. In last year's report, the projected reserve depletion years were 2034 for OASDI, 2034 for OASI, and 2032 for DI." (U.S. Social Security Administration [SSA])
Social Security Replacement Rates and Other Benefit Measures: An In-Depth Analysis
"Replacement rates that compare benefits with earnings just before retirement show that, across cohorts, benefits replace about two-fifths of substantial late-career earnings, falling short of providing income continuity as workers transition out of the labor force.... Because the Social Security benefit formula is progressive, meaning that benefits replace a larger share of earnings for lower-income workers, replacement rates for workers in the lowest earnings quintile are about two to three times higher, on average and across cohorts, than replacement rates for workers in the highest quintile." (Congressional Budget Office [CBO])
Estimates of the Financial Effects on the Social Security Program Assuming Enactment of the 'Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act' (PDF)
21 pages. "Under the proposal, the OASDI program would be able to pay 100 percent of scheduled benefits through 2052, and 91 percent in 2053 after combined trust fund reserve depletion, with the percentage payable declining to 86 percent in 2092. Enactment of the three provisions of this proposal would reduce the long-range OASDI actuarial deficit of 2.84 percent of taxable payroll under current law to 1.08 percent of payroll under the proposal." (Office of the Chief Actuary, U.S. Social Security Administration [SSA])
Estimates of the Financial Effects on the Social Security (OASDI) Program Assuming Enactment of the 'New Parents Act of 2019' (PDF)
"[If] enacted, this Bill would have a negligible effect on the long-range OASDI actuarial balance (that is, less than 0.005 percent of taxable payroll). In early years (through 2032), when parental leave benefits would be paid but few eligible parents would have experienced the effects of a delayed [Normal Retirement Age/Earliest Eligibility Age] or reductions to their OASDI benefits, this provision would result in more cost to the OASI Trust Fund. In years after 2032, when we project that no parental leave benefits would be paid, the OASI and DI Trust Funds would see a reduction in benefit cost compared to current law[.]" (Office of the Chief Actuary, U.S. Social Security Administration [SSA])
Social Security: Major Decisions in the House and Senate Since 1935
98 pages. "The Social Security program, enacted in 1935, has been amended numerous times. Lists and summaries of individual major Social Security amendments may illuminate the tone and context of the debate of the program in the House and Senate. Major statutory decisions made by Congress on the Social Security program, vote information, summaries of major legislative actions, descriptions of floor amendments and congressional debate may be informative to current discussions of the Social Security program." [CRS Report RL30920, updated Mar. 28, 2019] (Congressional Research Service [CRS])
The Social Security Retirement Age (PDF)
14 pages. "The Social Security full retirement age (FRA) is the age at which workers can first claim full Social Security retired-worker benefits.... Under legislation enacted in 1983, the FRA is increasing gradually from 65 to 67 over a 22-year period (for those reaching age 62 between 2000 and 2022).... Currently, the FRA is 66 and 6 months for workers who become eligible for retirement benefits in 2019 (i.e., workers born in 1957)." [Report R44670, updated March 7, 2019] (Congressional Research Service [CRS])
Reforming the Social Security WEP Exposes Weaknesses in State and Local Pensions
"The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) reduces Social Security benefits for retirees who also draw pension benefits from government employment not covered by Social Security. The Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act, a recently introduced congressional bill, would change how benefits are reduced.... Under the proposal, benefits for certain workers could be reduced by more than 30 percent and in some cases, by more than the amount of their noncovered pension benefit. The largest reductions would affect those who work in government employment for shorter periods, the same workers who already get the least benefit from their state and local government pension plans." (Urban Institute)
Retirement Implications of a Low Wage Growth, Low Real Interest Rate Economy
"Low returns increase optimal Social Security claiming ages and the marginal benefit of working longer, while low wage growth decreases the marginal benefit of working longer. Low economy-wide wage growth has a much larger welfare effect than low individual wage growth due to wage indexation of the initial benefit and the progressivity of the Social Security benefit formula." (National Bureau of Economic Research [NBER]; purchase required for full document)
How Do Lifetime Social Security Benefits and Taxes Differ by Earnings?
"This brief uses DYNASIM, the Urban Institute's dynamic microsimulation model, to project lifetime benefits and taxes for people born between 1940 and 1999. The results show that most nondisabled beneficiaries who survive to age 65 are scheduled to receive more in benefits than they contribute in taxes. The benefit-to-tax ratio is higher for those with lower lifetime incomes and is projected to remain stable over time for each quintile of lifetime income." (Urban Institute)
Social Security: Revisiting Benefits for Spouses and Survivors
35 pages. "This report presents the current-law structure of auxiliary benefits for spouses, divorced spouses, and surviving spouses. It makes note of adequacy and equity concerns of current-law spousal and widow(er)'s benefits, particularly with respect to female beneficiaries, and discusses the role of demographics, the labor market, and current-law provisions on adequacy and equity. The report concludes with a discussion of proposed changes to spousal and widow(er) benefits to address these concerns." [Report R41479, updated Feb. 6, 2019] (Congressional Research Service [CRS])
Internal Real Rates of Return Under the OASDI Program for Hypothetical Workers (PDF)
"This note presents analysis of theoretical internal real rates of return for hypothetical workers with various earnings patterns and levels under the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program.... [I]nternal rates of return attempt to answer the question: If an individual or group of workers with selected characteristics were to invest contributions to fund future benefits (including dependents), what real annual yield would be required to finance those future benefits?" (U.S. Social Security Administration [SSA])
Money's Worth Ratios Under the OASDI Program for Hypothetical Workers (PDF)
"This note presents analysis of theoretical money's worth ratios for hypothetical workers with various earnings patterns and levels under the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program. The money's worth ratio is the ratio of the present value of expected benefits to the present value of expected payroll taxes (contributions) for an individual or a cohort of workers. A value of greater than one for this ratio indicates that, on a present value basis, more money is expected to be received in benefits than is expected to be paid in payroll taxes over the lifetime of that individual or cohort." (U.S. Social Security Administration [SSA])
GAO Report on Retirement Security: Alternate Price Indexes for Cost-of-Living Adjustments Present Tradeoffs
"This report provides information on the benefits and disadvantages of alternate price indexes for measuring the cost of living for older Americans.... Using an alternate index would likely result in changes to benefits and program costs that accumulate over time.... Changing to an alternate index would have the largest relative effect on those who receive benefits the longest and those with lower incomes ... Implementing an alternate index could pose issues regarding timeliness of data and cost." [GAO-19-218R, Jan. 28, 2019] (U.S. Government Accountability Office [GAO])
Modernizing Social Security: Minimum Benefits
"Social Security's minimum benefit for retirees with very low career earnings does not prevent poverty and is withering away due to a design flaw. A broad consensus exists for enhancing this benefit to at least keep full-time, full-career workers out of poverty. Reform proposals, though, do differ over the extent to which part-time workers and those with shorter careers should also be eligible for a minimum benefit. Overall, any improved minimum benefit would reduce retiree poverty, and its cost could be offset by reducing benefits somewhat for higher earners." (Center for Retirement Research at Boston College)
Trends in Social Security Disability Insurance Enrollment (PDF)
21 pages. "Multiple factors have contributed to the growth in the SSDI enrollment between 1985 and 2014. Some of the main factors are [1] the increased eligibility and rising disability incidence among women, [2] the attainment of peak disability-claiming years (between age 50 and full retirement age) among baby boomers ... [3] the increase in full retirement age (FRA) from 65 to 66, [4] fewer job opportunities during economic recessions, and [5] the legislative reform that expanded the eligibility standard in SSDI. Some factors may have prolonged effect s on SSDI benefit receipt." [Report R45419, Nov. 30, 2018] (Congressional Research Service [CRS])
CBO's Long-Term Social Security Projections: Changes Since 2017 and Comparisons With the Social Security Trustees' Projections (PDF)
20 pages. "The projected 75-year actuarial balance ... has not changed as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) since last year ... As a percentage of taxable payroll, the projected 75-year actuarial balance has improved slightly ... CBO projects larger deficits in Social Security's finances than do the Social Security Trustees. That difference is largely explained by CBO's and the trustees' different projections of several key inputs into estimates of the system's finances: the population, earnings subject to Social Security payroll taxes, real interest rates." (Congressional Budget Office [CBO])
Pension Reform and Return to Work Policies
"Existing research has shown that retirees are sensitive to the Social Security earnings test, which restricts the amount of earnings some beneficiaries can receive.... [This study uses] return-to-work rules limiting the number of hours of employment in a state's public pension plan and administrative data on employment and retirement to determine the rules' effects on retirement decisions and post-retirement labor supply.... [I]ncreases in the maximum number of hours of post-retirement employment lead to no change in retirement benefit collection and to increases in part-time work among retirees. As such, these policies appear to be binding on the labor supply decisions of some employees." (National Bureau of Economic Research [NBER]; purchase required for full document)
Retirement, Income and Risk: Second Biennial Study on the American Retirement Experience (PDF)
23 pages. "As reported in the 2016 inaugural study, pension income is a significant component of retirees' financial and overall security -- in 2018 this continues to be true, with important implications for current and future generations of active and retired American workers. This year's report will look at how guaranteed income, be it Social Security, pension, or annuities, is the rebar that strengthens the road to and through retirement." (Insured Retirement Institute [IRI])
Would Greater Awareness of Social Security Survivor Benefits Affect Claiming Decisions?
"A simple information intervention that highlights the likelihood and consequences of widowhood, and demonstrates how delayed claiming enhances survivor benefits, may be insufficient to change the stated claiming intentions of older husbands. The framing of these information interventions ... seems to affect claiming at least as much as the content presented." (Center for Retirement Research at Boston College)
[Official Guidance] Social Security Announces 2.8 Percent Benefit Increase for 2019
"The 2.8 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits payable to more than 62 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2019. Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 31, 2018.... [T]he maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $132,900 from $128,400." (U.S. Social Security Administration [SSA])
SSA Actuarial Note 2018-4: Illustrative Benefits for Retired Workers, Disabled Workers, and Survivors Scheduled Under Current Law (PDF)
"[F]our tables show estimated future benefits consistent with earnings in 2017 and age in 2018.... Table 1A: Retired Workers Who Become Entitled at Normal Retirement Age (NRA).... Table 1B: Retired Workers Who Become Entitled at Age 65.... Table 2: Disabled Worker Annual Benefit Amounts.... Table 3: Survivor Annual Benefit Amounts." (Office of the Chief Actuary, U.S. Social Security Administration [SSA])
Estimates of the Financial Effects on Social Security of H.R. 6933, the 'Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act of 2018' (PDF)
"This Bill would generally replace the windfall elimination provision (WEP) with a new formula ... for individuals becoming eligible for OASDI benefits in 2025 or later. The proposal would also provide for a rebate payment starting in 2020 for individuals affected by the current WEP.... Over the period 2019 through 2028, ... the net program cost for the OASDI program would be increased by about $25.0 billion. Over the long-range 75-year period, ... enactment of the Bill would increase (improve) the OASDI actuarial balance by 0.04 percent of taxable payroll." (U.S. Social Security Administration [SSA])
Estimates of the Financial Effects on the Social Security Program of the 'Surviving Widow(er) Income Fair Treatment Act of 2018' (PDF)
"[E]nactment of this Bill [S. 3457] would result in a net increase in OASDI benefit cost starting in 2020, reducing (worsening) the long-range OASDI actuarial balance by 0.05 percent of taxable payroll, from a deficit of 2.84 percent of payroll under current law to a deficit of 2.89 percent of payroll ... The estimated year of combined OASI and DI Trust Fund reserve depletion would remain at 2034." (Office of the Chief Actuary, U.S. Social Security Administration [SSA])
Modernizing Social Security: Widow Benefits
"Social Security widow benefits have been declining -- relative to the couple's benefit -- due to the rising labor force activity of women. In response, policy experts have proposed increasing the widow benefit, particularly for those with low to moderate incomes. To cover the cost, they would reduce the spousal benefit, essentially shifting money from when both spouses are alive to when only one member is alive. This policy appears to offer a well-targeted and fiscally responsible way to further reduce poverty for widows." (Center for Retirement Research at Boston College)
How Is the Mortality Gap Affecting Social Security Progressivity?
"While Americans are generally living longer, the gains have been unequal; those with higher socioeconomic status (SES) have substantially longer lifespans. This growing mortality gap works against Social Security's progressive benefit design, as higher-SES individuals end up getting their benefits for a longer period. As a result, studies find that the mortality gap has significantly reduced -- though not eliminated -- the overall progressivity of the Social Security program." (Center for Retirement Research at Boston College)
Estimate of Financial Effects on the Social Security (OASDI) Program of Proposed 'Economic Security for New Parents Act' (PDF)
"The parental leave benefit would be a specified percentage of the primary insurance amount as determined for the parent based on earnings prior to application for the parental leave payment, as if the parent had become disabled on that date ... Those who elect to receive a parental leave benefit would have their normal retirement age and their earliest eligibility ages increased by a specified number of months.... [If] enacted, this Bill would have a negligible effect on the long-range OASDI actuarial balance[.]" (Office of the Chief Actuary, U.S. Social Security Administration [SSA])
How Much Would Senator Rubio's Paid Leave Program Help New Parents?
"To expand parental leave options, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced legislation ... that would allow new parents to trade part of their future Social Security retirement benefits for paid leave. Simulations ... show that a paid leave benefit equal to 300 percent of a monthly Social Security disability benefit would typically replace about 80 percent of pre-tax earnings for parents who leave work for two months. For each two-month paid leave, the program would raise Social Security's full retirement age by about six months, reducing average lifetime retirement benefits by 3 percent." (Urban Institute)
Highlights from the Social Security Trustees Annual Report
"The Board reported that for the first time since 1982, the total cost of Social Security retirement benefits paid in 2018 will exceed the total income generated by the fund, including tax revenue and income from investments.... The Board projects that the combined OASDI Trust Fund will only be sufficient to fully cover expected costs until 2034, using the intermediate assumptions. After this point, the Trust Fund would be fully depleted. When the Board uses their high-cost assumptions, this depletion is accelerated to 2029, while the fund would remain fully solvent for the 75-year period under the Board's low-cost assumptions." (Robert W. Baird & Co.)
Social Security: Minimum Benefits (PDF)
26 pages. "In 2017, about 39,347 of the 62 million Social Security recipients qualified for the minimum benefit.... The Social Security Administration estimates that the provision will have no effect on workers turning 62 in 2019 or later.... Some recent proposals would redesign the minimum benefit.... [A] new minimum benefit provision could be introduced, the standard benefit could be increased for people who worked for many years at low earnings, or a fixed dollar-benefit could be introduced." [Report R43615, July 20, 2018] (Congressional Research Service [CRS])
How Social Security Benefits Are Computed: In Brief (PDF)
11 pages. "Social Security is of ongoing interest both because of its role in supporting a large portion of the population and because of its long-term financial imbalance, and policy makers have considered numerous proposals to change its benefit computation rules. The Social Security benefits that are paid to worker beneficiaries and to workers' dependents and survivors are based on workers' past earnings." [Report R43542, June 28, 2018] (Congressional Research Service [CRS])
Improving Social Security Coverage and Retirement Benefits for Independent Contractors (PDF)
44 pages. "This paper provides a background of the policy mechanism for covering [independent contractors (ICs)] through Social Security, explores the reasons why the system leaves gaps in coverage for ICs, and offers six categories of policy options to improve Social Security coverage and re tirement benefits for these workers." (National Academy of Social Insurance [NASI])
An Actuarial Perspective on the 2018 Social Security Trustees Report (PDF)
10 pages. "Social Security's short-range OASDI financial projection is worse than the projection made a year ago.... Moving the short-range estimate period forward one year reduced the fund ratio by 18 percentage points ... The actuarial balance worsened, from a negative 2.83 percent to a negative 2.84 percent, from the 2017 to the 2018 Trustees Report." (American Academy of Actuaries)
Wake Up, Millennials: What the Latest Social Security Trustees Report is Telling You
"If Congress takes no action to close this gap prior to 2034, system benefits will effectively be reduced by 21%, across-the-board at that time. To put the program back in long-term balance prior to 2034 will require something like a 22% across-the-board decrease in benefits or a 28% increase in the payroll tax[.]" (Ken Steiner, FSA Retired)
Depending on Your Age, This Will Protect You from a Social Security Fail
"Social Security remains on the cusp. Out of balance as of this year, it's doomed to go insolvent in 2034. What can people do to help protect themselves against the failure of Social Security? Here are some practical examples of how people, based on their current age, can best protect themselves (and their children) from this imminent failure." (Fiduciary News)
Social Security's Financial Outlook: The 2018 Update in Perspective
"The 2018 Trustees Report shows virtually no change: ... Trust fund exhaustion is still 2034, after which payroll taxes still cover about three quarters of promised benefits. This 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. One concern is whether the declining fertility rate is a lingering effect of the Great Recession or a permanent shift that could worsen Social Security's finances." (Center for Retirement Research at Boston College)
Social Security Combined Trust Fund Reserves Depletion Year Remains 2034
"In the 2018 Annual Report to Congress, the Trustees announced: [1] The OASI Trust Fund is projected to become depleted in late 2034, as compared to last year's estimate of early 2035, with 77 percent of benefits payable at that time. [2] The DI Trust Fund will become depleted in 2032, extended from last year's estimate of 2028, with 96 percent of benefits still payable.... [3] The asset reserves of the combined OASDI Trust Funds increased by $44 billion in 2017 to a total of $2.89 trillion. [4] The total annual cost of the program is projected to exceed total annual income in 2018 for the first time since 1982, and remain higher throughout the 75-year projection period." (U.S. Social Security Administration [SSA])
The Case for a New Social Contract for Retirement
"People are today living longer than at any other time in history.... [We] need to ensure the long-term sustainability of social security benefits.... The traditional career trajectory of taking on additional responsibilities over time before abruptly stopping work at pension age ... needs to be replaced by a more flexible approach and the ability to transition into retirement, be it by reducing hours or working in a different capacity." (Aegon)
Social Security Programs and Retirement Around the World: Working Longer
"In the two decades since the project began, the dramatic decline in men's labor force participation has ended and been replaced by sharply rising participation rates. Older women's participation has been rising as well.... [The authors] document trends in participation and employment and also consider factors that may help to explain these changes in behavior." (National Bureau of Economic Research [NBER]; purchase required for full document)
Social Security: Options for Potential New Automatic Adjustment Features (PDF)
"Under an automatic adjustment approach, changes to keep the system in positive long-range actuarial balance would be made on a periodic basis. These changes could be in the form of an increase in revenue, an adjustment in the total projected benefits over the recipients' lifetimes, or some combination of the two.... This issue brief examines automatic adjustment options, including their advantages and disadvantages." (American Academy of Actuaries)
Recent Updates to Medicare and Social Security: Why They Matter (PDF)
"As a direct result of [recent] changes ... a 55-year-old couple each earning $70,000 in 2018 will face the following retirement challenges: [1] The cumulative cost of the delay in Means Testing indexing, combined with the lowering of brackets three through five, will increase their lifetime surcharges by almost $122,000 (over $272,000 in future value). [2] The elimination of 'File Restricted' and 'File and Suspend' claiming strategies will result in the loss of over $36,000 (nearly $78,000 in future value) in potential lifetime Social Security benefits.... If future COLAs are consistent with the latest Social Security Trustee projections (2.6%), the couple will require 123% of their Social Security income to meet their future health care expenses." (HealthView)
Paying for Parental Leave with Future Social Security Benefits
"A recent proposal would allow new parents to trade future Social Security benefits for a few months of paid leave. Projections ... show that providing a progressive, 12-week leave benefit averaging about half pay ... would require raising the Social Security full retirement age for leave program participants about 25 weeks. This increase would permanently reduce participants' monthly Social Security retirement benefits about 3 percent. The proposed program would raise Social Security's annual costs, net of benefit offsets, about 1 percent, worsening the program's financing shortfall." (Urban Institute)
A Targeted Minimum Benefit Plan: A New Proposal to Reduce Poverty Among Older Social Security Recipients
"[The authors] propose an effective and relatively inexpensive targeted program to provide a minimally adequate floor to old-age income through the program. This minimum benefit plan would provide a cost-effective method for reducing elder poverty to low levels. A key element is that the benefit would not count toward other social programs' income eligibility thresholds. Other aspects include an income-tested benefit that would bring beneficiaries to the poverty threshold; application by filing of a 1040 income tax return; and setting of benefit levels and distribution through the Social Security Administration." (Urban Institute)
Much Ado About Nothing Saved for Retirement? Why Social Security Alone May Be Enough
"It may be true that many who have had low income levels live off income from Social Security, but circumstances occur when other people must face this same fate.... Cutting expenses prior to retirement has two benefits. First, it conditions to future retiree to live a more modest (and therefore affordable) lifestyle. Second, if presents the added bonus of freeing up money that can then be saved for retirement." (Fiduciary News)
Estimates of the Financial Effects on Social Security of H.R. 4584, the 'Student Security Act of 2017' (PDF)
"H.R. 4584 specifies that for every $550 (in 2018 dollars) in student loan balance that a person chooses to have forgiven, his or her [earliest eligibility age] and [normal retirement age] would be increased by one month.... [These] estimates [assume] that one-half of eligible student loan amounts would be forgiven with this offer.... [T]he long-range OASDI actuarial deficit would decrease from 2.83 percent of payroll under current law to 2.52 percent of payroll assuming enactment of the Bill." (U.S. Social Security Administration [SSA])
[Opinion] Alicia Munnell Explains the Social Security Fix No One Wants
"Policymakers should fix Social Security by raising taxes. Money doesn't come from heaven. It's going to have to come from someplace, and it should be done on the revenue side. We need to maintain benefits. People don't have anything else other than 401(k)s, and a significant portion of the population doesn't even have those." (ThinkAdvisor)
 
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