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Social Security's costs will exceed its income in 2020

Posted at 12:06 PM, Apr 22, 2019

If Congress doesn't act soon, tens of millions of Americans will only receive about three-quarters of their Social Security benefits when they retire.

The combined trust funds of Social Security and Medicare will be tapped out by 2035, according to an annual report released Monday by trustees of the government's two largest entitlement programs. That's one year later than last year's report projected.

The latest projection doesn't mean retirees will no longer get checks in 16 years. But the program will at that point only have enough revenue coming in to pay three-quarters of promised benefits through the end of 2093.

The trustees urged lawmakers to act quickly to assure Americans they'll be able to get their full retirement benefits.

"Lawmakers have a broad continuum of policy options that would close or reduce the long-term financing shortfall of both programs," wrote Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin along with three other trustees, including Alex Azar, secretary of Health and Human Services, in their report to Congress.

Also, Social Security's total cost is projected to exceed its total income in 2020 and continue that way through 2093.

The program would be financed with a combination of interest income and drawing down on the trust funds' assets until 2035 when the reserves are depleted.

In terms of Medicare, the trustees project that the trust fund for Part A, which covers hospital and nursing home costs for seniors, will be depleted in 2026, the same as last year's projections.

But the trust funds for Medicare Part B, which covers doctors' visits and outpatient services, and Part D, which offers prescription drugs coverage, will remain adequately financed into the "indefinite future." They are paid for by a combination of enrollees' premiums and money from general federal revenue. The law requires automatic financing of them.