Disability, Retirement

Social Security Funded Until 2034, and About Three-Quarters Funded for the Long Term; Many Options to Address the Long-Term Shortfall

June 22, 2016 • By

Reading Time: 3 Minutes

Last Updated: June 22, 2016

Trustee's ReportThe Social Security Board of Trustees today released its 76th annual report to Congress on the financial status of the Social Security trust funds.  As a trustee of Social Security funds, I work with the other trustees to ensure the public is informed about the status of Social Security’s finances for the short term and over the next 75 years.

Workers earn their Social Security benefits by contributing through deductions from their paychecks. The Social Security trust funds include the Old Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) fund, which pays benefits to retired workers and their families and to the families of deceased workers; and the Disability Insurance (DI) fund, which pays benefits to disabled workers and their families.

Today’s report shows that, as a whole, Social Security is fully funded until 2034, and after that it is about three-quarters financed. Considered alone, the DI Trust Fund is projected to become depleted sooner than the combined Social Security funds. I am pleased that legislation signed into law by President Obama last November averted a near-term shortfall in DI. With that small, temporary reallocation of the Social Security contribution rate, the DI fund will now be able to pay full benefits until 2023, and the retirement fund alone will be adequate into 2035. It is important that Congress act well before 2023 in order to strengthen the finances of the program as a whole.

Young people frequently ask: “Will Social Security be there for me?” I take this question very seriously, and I am sure Social Security will be there in the future. Its total cost is now about 5% of the national economy, or GDP. That will rise to about 6% when all of the baby boomers are retired. That increase, 1% of GDP, is less than the nation’s increase in spending for public education when baby boomers were children.

As President Obama recently said:

“Fewer and fewer people have pensions they can really count on, which is why Social Security is more important than ever. We can’t afford to weaken Social Security. We should be strengthening Social Security. Not only do we need to strengthen its long-term health, it’s time we finally made Social Security more generous, and increased its benefits so that today’s retirees and future generations get the dignified retirement that they’ve earned.”

Like the President, I am confident we will rise to the challenge. Social Security is an earned benefit—a benefit that is critically important to the people who receive it. It is a foundation of economic security when workers and their families face what Franklin D. Roosevelt called “the hazards and vicissitudes of life.” It is the nation’s most effective poverty prevention program, keeping 21 million people out of poverty. So when we talk about Social Security financing, it’s not just a budget exercise – it’s our retirement system and our family economic security system, now and for the future.

Lawmakers have many policy options to address the shortfall: increasing contribution rates, lifting the cap on earnings subject to contributions, drawing on other revenue sources, lowering benefit amounts, or a combination of changes. Social Security’s independent actuaries have analyzed over 100 policy proposals from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, and those results are available on the Actuary’s website. Lawmakers should act soon to address the long-term shortfall and preserve the reserves that yield interest income to help pay future benefits.

I am confident about the future of Social Security. We look forward to continuing to serve the American people by delivering the foundation of economic security that we know as Social Security

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About the Author

Carolyn Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security

Acting Commissioner of Social Security (February 14, 2013 - January 20, 2017)


  1. Barb i.

    This is all lame because it does not matter what the government says, they will do what they want not what is good for the people who actually paid it in. Obama is a joke and so are most of the politicians. They are suppose to work for us, but they actually work for themselves. They always seem to get raises and we get left out in the cold. The only cure is to make the politicians pay in SS and then have to draw it and live on it and they might do a better job on managing it.

    • S. W.

      wow i love that comment, they need to pay in SS and we seniors live off of it. they will not like it at all, we have to wonder where our next meal coming from, are we cutting our med’s in half so it can last.

    • Dee

      So so true, you’ve got the right idea..

  2. brian

    entire social services in USA is 50 years behind N Europe medical pension educational senior citizens etc etc

    It is what it is , sadly my kids are here if they wernnt Id be in europe next week

    • Someone f.

      “sadly my kids are here”?

    • Richard S.

      Don’t let the door hit ya!

  3. Maria

    Does any body can tell me what would be the reason a person can be reduced her/his social security benefits retirement up to 50%!!! less!!!?

    • John O.

      60%, Government Pension Offset.

      • Norma V.

        If a person owes child support arrearages when he/she begin receiving social security, up to 50% can be taken from their retirement benefits.

        • Ray F.

          Hi Norma. We can withhold Social Security benefits to enforce your legal obligation to pay child support, alimony or restitution. However, State laws determine a valid garnishment order. Click here to read more.

    • Laura R.

      If you become employed (even part-time) and make over a certain amount of money per month, your SSDI payments will be decreased by $1 for every $2 you earn over that amount. I haven’t read up on that in a few years, but as far as I know, it’s still that way.

      • Dee

        Yes it is, I was told that by a social security worker, which is ridiculous when you are trying to make ends meet, by a higher standard of living because we dont get yearly colas, many of us don’t play the lottery, so we don’t mind taking on a part time job..the government needs to stop suppressing us and let us live and make our own decisions on how we want to get additional income, this is suppose to be the land of the free or is it?

      • Ray F.

        Thank you for your comment. Social Security strongly supports those individuals who want to return to the work force while supplementing their disability benefit income. We have Work Incentives that allow people to work and still receive their benefits. A person may still be eligible for disability benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance program if they work. However, their earnings cannot exceed a certain amount. This is called the Substantial Gainful Activity or SGA limit. In 2016, the SGA limit is $1,130 per month (or $1,820 for blind applicants). In addition to the amount of money you make, Social Security may also look at the number of hours you’re able to work. We hope this information helps.

        • Paula V.

          Hi Laura, I think the SSA worker gave you a brief synopsis of what would happen to your SSI benefits if you returned to work. People on SSI often have no or little work history. People on SSDI or people who have paid into the system, get a 9 month trial work period where they can make as much as they want while trying to see if they are well enough to return to work. Check out the SSA Ticket to Work program. http://www.choosework.net and get free help in returning to work AND tracking your benefits. It is the BEST government program out there!!!!

  4. Yolanda G.

    It would be fully funded until well over 2024 if obama would pay back the millions he took out to fund his obama care! Wake up people we are being robbed blind and I’m sure killary will not do much better for us seniors! I will only be 89, if I live that long by the time this article says, as I read it, will become unfunded. Then what will happen to me????? yikes

    • John O.

      That’s 2034, and the borrowing from the trust funds has been going on since Johnson borrowed to finance the Vietnam war. As I said above, none of this matters if the government goes bankrupt.

      • Ray F.

        Social Security is a pay-as-you-go system. Social Security taxes collected from today’s workers pay the benefits of today’s retirees. Any funds in excess of what is needed to pay today’s benefits are invested in special issue, U.S. Government, interest-bearing securities. This investment – the purchase of U.S. Government securities – is what constitutes the “borrowing” that people are sometimes concerned about. Any funds that have been “borrowed” from the Social Security Trust Funds have always been paid back in full, plus interest. Please check out our Trust Fund Frequently Asked Questions page for more information.

  5. Steve

    I am dubious of this reassurance. It reminds me of the story of the man falling off the Empire State Building yelling in the open windows of floors 30-36 ” I”m not hurt yet” Trusting a government that has allowed the debt to go from $11T to nearly $20T in eight short years is beyond my capability.

    • John O.

      You are wise to feel that way. All this talk about SSA solvency has been going on for 2 decades with little in the way of changes. It is a moot point how much is in the trust funds if the government goes bankrupt. The trust funds are not exempt from a collapse of the government if it is unable to service its overall debt.

    • jomama

      Not one American stood up in defense, or did they?

  6. Dudley S.

    Do you have any word on the amount of any projected anti-inflation adjustment for 2017 in our basic “retirement” SS benefit ? As I’m sure you know, the amount for 2016 was ZERO ! and we’ve seen hints of a majestic, magnificent total of 1 % for 2017 !!

    I know it’s in the hands of Congress (Boy, are we in trouble !!) – would be good to get some positive news

    Thanks –

  7. Fran L.

    Ms. Colvin,
    Thank you for your well written synopsis of the state of Social Security. It is not only informative but also reassuring that there are many options to cover any future shortfalls. With all of the fear mongering about so many issues today it is good to read a straight forward and factual report on the state of this invaluable government program. I always cringe when I hear it referred to as an “entitlement” as though hard working people have never made any contributions.
    Thank you for your fine service on this commission.

    • Bill M.

      I agree 100% with Fran L.

      • Dana O.

        Agree. Rhetoric by some members of Congress consists primarily in “public relations” spin.
        While the wealthy believe in charity, they appear, for the most part, to grab headlines ensuring that the breadline and charity is to be preferred to entitlements. Privitizations of public benefits paid for is a possible aim, as public pensions are targets, at least for teachers in New York, so that fund “managers,” can get their hands on our contributions.

    • Jarita D.

      Dear Commissioner Colvin: thank you so very much for eloquently delivering the “exciting and excellent news” that SSA benefits will be available until 2034 plus… Thank you again and to the SSA family — for serving the people of the United States of America. God bless all of you!

  8. Mary A.

    I now have to find supplement insurance as not eligible for medicaid because of being over 65. I dont have any other as only medicare what is the answer for other insurance

    • John O.

      Private insurance companies will also underwrite your health care needs and you may not have to pay an additional premium. Some refer to this as medicare advantage or part C. Age is NOT a reason for you to lose Medicaid coverage, income is. There are millions of people on Medicare and they still have Medicaid, in fact Medicaid helps them to pay for their Medicare premiums, check that out.

    • Marcie

      You can get a Secondary Insurance. Call UNITED HEALTH CARE. They’re great! My room-mate has full Medicare benefits, plus State Medicade and United Health Care, which helps pay for everything the Government benefits do not. They have catalogs that come every 3 months with $80-$100 credits to be used for durable equiptment, (shower chairs, canes) vitamins, denture creams, lotions, diabetes needs, etc.
      insurance plan is free too, plus every 2 years, they cover Optical, glasses or contacts. Dental, covers even new set of dentures. United Health Care really took care of my room-mate and best part, since he only gets SSDI, it cost him $0 to join and he’s now been with them for 9 1/2 years. They just now started HOUSE CALLS PROGRAM, and he wouldn’t be on this earth if it wasn’t for all they do.

  9. Dudley S.

    What’s the latest news, if any in this zany political year, about an increase for 2017 in our Social Security “retirement” benefit ? We received “Zilch” in the way of an inflation-offsetting adjustment for 2016, and I’ve seen ugly rumors of the figure for 2017 being a meager 1 % !!! Do you have any news to share?

    • Gary

      Waiting for a definitive answer in the fall, but best guess today is a 0.2% increase. LAME!!

      • Sandy L.

        Really flushing Seniors and disabled down the drain . It would help if the government kept their sticky fingers out of using it for unrelated reasons.

        • Sam

          obama doesn’t like the old folks who cling to their guns and religion.

          • jomama

            That’s the truth!

        • carolyn

          Obama just took a very very large amount out of social security to finance Obama care and is not going to pay it back. there are a large number of iou’s in social security that never get paid.

          • Ray F.

            Carolyn, Social Security is a pay-as-you-go system. Social Security taxes collected from today’s workers pay the benefits of today’s retirees. Any funds in excess of what is needed to pay today’s benefits are invested in special issue, U.S. Government, interest-bearing securities. This investment – the purchase of U.S. Government securities – is what constitutes the “borrowing” that people are sometimes concerned about. Any funds that have been “borrowed” from the Social Security Trust Funds have always been paid back in full, plus interest. Please check out our Trust Fund – Frequently Asked Questions page for more information.

      • Dee

        We all need an increase of 7% to keep us afloat, e/one else get’s raises in higher places for doing nothing, we as a people deserve better, we have paid our dues and deserve to be treated as human beings, not yesterdays old news.

        • Wyinonna A.

          Yes I agree

    • John O.

      No one knows at this point. We have to be further down the road. From what I can see and since it is an election year 1.6% is a good estimate. .2% is not an actuarial possibility as the law is written.

  10. Gary J.

    Food costs should be included in cost of living adjustments!

    • Gary

      I agree!!

      • Yolanda G.

        the cost of living should include anything that we as seniors have to survive.
        I want to know WHY Califonria taxes the social security payments. Didn’t we already pay taxes through our payroll checks??? Arizona does not tax social security payments. Why California, Why?

        • John O.

          That is a State issue, not a Federal issue, move.

          • Mike

            Because California taxes EVERYTHING! We just moved out of California to Washington state and couldn’t be happier!

          • Yolanda G.

            John! I plan to!

          • Peter a.

            Some of us can’t even afford to move, still locked into a great mortgage and could not afford these new higher monthly payments.. It is a valid concern. Please do not pass it off with a quick response.

        • Johnny R.

          Actually, CA does NOT tax social security benefits. Look at taxfoundation.org/maps

          • Yolanda G.

            Actually if you make over $25,000 in a year you will get taxed by the State of California.

          • Paul W.

            Johnny R is correct. California does not Tax SS benefits, no matter what your income is. The Feds do tax it if you make over a limited figure.

        • Sam

          because of your ulta spending liberals

          • Ken

            You need to check your facts and see who has spent more.

          • zcompguy

            Sam, what are you doing here. This is an adult conversation.!

        • Tax p.

          The illegals have to eat, so they won’t go back to Mexico, if you pay more taxes.

          • Another t.

            You have to know the laws moron. Everywhere you go you need a residency-green card-citizenship in order to obtain any benefits. What is probably just is to give social help as a temporary fix not in a long term basis. As a taxpayer I see with disolucionment how Americans who can work and earn a living want to use the system to survive

        • deana l.

          Move out of California. It is a terrible state anyway. Overcrowded.

          • marilynne

            …and subject to horrible earthquakes and fires.

      • cynthia B.

        i always say jusst becuse i have to use a wheal chair i still have to wipe my ass. $10.00 for toliet paper if ur lucky to find a sale

        • Juan d.

          Start washing your ass with soap and water , it feels good and smell better !

      • VERNELL


        • doria

          We should get something like wic for seniors to help with food like milk, bread, not whole wheat, some seniors cant tolerate it, eggs, cheese, butter, cereal , peanut butter.

          • Lori

            I agree. We are feeding thousands and thousands of illegal parents who come here to have their children born born here and YOU KNOW they are eating the food that is supposed to be for the children. One customer I waited on, who was from another country was using a food stamp card. He had lots of food and non food items. When his bill was run up and he ran his card through he had a balance to pay. He asked me if any of that balance left over was for food. I told him that I did not know. And his response was “well, I’m not paying for my own food!” He certainly had enough non-food items to pay for himself, just not food!!!

        • Ken

          Your right. Social security if primarily for seniors and COL should be determined on the average Senior needs. Food, Medical Transportaion etc.

      • Dorothy D.

        Yes, food costs should be included as nutrition is so important to health. Seniors
        don’t have incomes to keep up with the rising cost of food.
        Also, the 1980 Windfall Act is
        a disgrace to widows and widowers.
        I am a retired teacher and because of that I do not get
        one penny of my husband’s
        social security. He paid in for
        55 years !!!!! Joe passed away
        of cancer in 2012. He could not
        take the refinanced mortgage,
        property tax, etc. with him to
        heaven. I know he would of if
        such a thing was possible.
        Please help widows to get
        their spouses social security
        money which the husbands
        hoped for them to have their
        remaining years on earth.
        Thank you for listening and
        trying to help!

        • Ray F.

          Thank you for sharing Dorothy. Thank you for your comment.

          • M.James

            Ray ,how is it that the population of this country has grown since Soc.Sec.was started, by MILLIONS! Then tell us why the system is going under? With the increase of workers,is an increase of Soc.Sec.income deducted from their pay checks! Your math does NOT ADD UP!

      • susan c.

        The news media said the cost of living for Social Security was based on gas prices, since when does gas effect this number. Nothing has gone down any where except the size of the packages of food for a higher cost. Why in the world would not food and cost of health care effect the cost of living. Yes, gas did go down for a short time but of course it is back on the rise but not social security, that is the stupendous thing I have ever heard of , gas effecting whether there should be a raise in social security or not. Seriously, which political party had a say in that decision. Rich keep getting richer and the middle class keeps getting poorer. Forget the poor people, that number just keeps getting bigger and bigger.

        • doria

          We should get something like wic for seniors to help with food like milk, bread, not whole wheat, some seniors cant tolerate it, eggs, cheese, butter, cereal , peanut butter.

        • doria

          Most seniors don’t drive anyway so they don’t use gas.

          • Steve

            How do you know Dora? Did you take a scientific survey on how many seniors do drive and do not drive? I DO drive!

          • Steve

            Excuse me. I meant Doria.

          • Lori

            Where I live all seniors drive – we don’t have public transportation. And “how old” do you consider seniors to be if they “don’t drive anyway?”

          • Ken

            If they are not able to drive, they have to pay a higher price to get transportation for medical appts. grocery shopping as an example.

          • Trudy F.

            All the seniorsI know drive!

          • John G.

            Wrong answer!

      • Kori S.

        Totally agree with that! By the time I pay my bills, & I’m very very basic, rent, electric, & phone, I have $100 left! With the cost of food today, I can’t even afford to eat yet good old government says I make to much for food stamps. $100 is like a $20 today and I don’t drive due to my injuries! Have no family, so it costs me $ just to go and get food???????

        • Dee

          So true, I agree..they don’t think babyboomers know what’s going on, but for years they have been robbing us under the table..and yes wr all need to receive food stamps for better living..

        • Wyinonna A.

          I get food stamps but not enough for the full month an my check is not enough please help

    • Richard S.

      Why are taxpayers paying for this pro Obama propaganda? why is the SSA wasting our money on this . It violates the Hatch ACT!!

      • Britt B.

        How is this pro Obama? He’s not running for office. It seems to me to be pro Social Security.

    • Bj


      • Tom

        Sadly, many low-information posts are here that do not reflect a basic understanding of how government works. Things will never get better if everyone is awash in misinformation. It is even worse if you yourself are the agent of that misinformation.

        Congress determines the COLA formula. One party is even thinking about switching to another method that the vast majority of the time will be even stingier. People vote for that party when they get angry at government. How does that help you?

        It is time to wake up. If you want to fix things, you must focus on who you send to Congress and then question why you sit around complaining to each other rather than hold those you elect accountable when they don’t do what you want. Your blog posts cannot fix anything. Executive agencies are unable to fix what only Congress or the courts can mandate. In a way, what has happened can be said to be a direct result of people’s contempt for government. As a citizen given the gift of the greatest democracy the world has seen you should be participating and increasing your knowledge rather than complaining futilely to each other. When you don’t hold anyone accountable they will instead do the legislative bidding of those who contribute large funds to campaigns or to well-funded think tanks and organizations that mostly serve to take your democracy away and do the bidding of the smallest segment of our population: the very well off. Stop voting against your own financial interests and get involved! You can just make noise or you can make a difference! Then government will work for you instead.

        • Lori

          You send to Congress the people who are telling you what you want to hear. You know that it all changes once they get to Washington!

    • Joe

      Agree. Actions speak louder than words. Food inflation ignored by our government! Shameful !

    • Cilla


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