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2022 SSA Trustees Report

Impacts to your Social Security.

fyi50+: Each year, the Social Security Administration delivers a report to Congress and the President about the financial state of the program.

This report is called the SSA Trustees Report, and it is available to all to see on ssa.gov.

The report for 2022 was just released to the public, so I asked David to summarize some of the report’s highlights.


 

David: Heidi, there is some good news in the report along with some warnings about the need for congressional action in the future.

Status of the Trust Fund

Most of the rules we follow today in the administration of the Social Security program were adopted in 1983.

At that time, the Greenspan Commission recognized that baby boomers were one day going to retire and strain the program’s finances if there was no advanced planning.

As a result, over the years, the Social Security Administration has been accumulating a Trust Fund.

The fund fulfills the promises made to workers who have paid into the system for most of their working life.

The SSA Trustees Report for 2021 highlights the status of the Trust Fund.

In 2021, the system collected $1,088 billion. At the same time, it paid out $1,145 billion in benefits to 50 million retirees and their dependents, nine million disabled workers, and six million survivors of workers who have died. Thus, more was paid out than taken in, and the size of the Trust Fund fell slightly to $2,853 billion by the end of 2021.

SSA Projected Shortfall & How to Correct It

The actuaries who work for the SSA expected this decline to continue to 2035. At that time, the Trust Fund will be depleted. If Congress takes no corrective action, existing and future benefits must be trimmed by 20%.

Here is the good news. In 2020, the SSA Trustees Report projected this shortfall to occur in 2034. Based on the latest results, Congress has another year to correct the finances and adopt a plan to fund the program for the next 75 years.

The report also summarizes ways to correct this 2035 shortfall.

There are several choices, including increasing the wage base formula or raising the payroll tax rate.

Both these changes will likely be needed.

The SSA could also change the definition of full retirement age on the benefit side, or change the starting age for retirement benefits by a year or two.

These changes will most likely impact younger workers; however, time is on their side. Younger workers can make plans and adjust their expectations about their retirement age and the size of their benefits.

We will continue to watch for changes as they are being proposed and see what year the Trust Fund will be gone.

Our congressional representatives must address this situation within the next few years and should be encouraged to make the system corrections earlier rather than later.

For many workers, the bedrock of their retirement plan depends on a functioning, fully funded Social Security system.

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