Friday, 14 December, 2018

Social Security to tap reserves to cover 2018 benefits

Medicare fund will run out by 2026 trustees say	 	 	 			Christopher Furlong  Getty Images Medicare fund will run out by 2026 trustees say Christopher Furlong Getty Images
Johnnie Parks | 06 June, 2018, 22:45

The combined reserves of the Social Security trust funds are expected to be depleted in 2034, the same time frame projected past year, according to the latest annual report from the Social Security and Medicare Board of Trustees released Tuesday.

The report by the trustees stressed that they've said before that the fund in trouble is not adequately financed over the next 10 years.

The program is now expected to deplete its funds by 2026, down from last year's estimate of 2029.

A separate projection released on Tuesday showed it will become insolvent in 2034 - the same estimate as a year ago. Medicare provides health insurance for about 60 million people, most of whom are age 65 or older. The report said the total annual cost of Social Security is projected to exceed total annual income in 2018 for the first time since the Reagan era, meaning the program will have to tap into reserves. Medicare Part B, which covers outpatient visits, and Part D, which pays for most prescription drugs, are paid for in part by general revenue and by individuals' premiums.

The report from program trustees says Medicare will become insolvent in 2026, three years earlier than previously forecast. About 23 percent of older married couples rely on Social Security as their main source of income, according to the program.

"The administration's economic agenda - tax cuts, regulatory reform and improved trade agreements - will generate the long-term growth needed to help secure these programs", Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday. That's the amount the Social Security's trustees said tax income alone could cover.

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Excluding federal debt payments, Medicare and Social Security together make up about 40 percent of total U.S. government spending.

President Donald Trump says he won't cut Social Security or Medicare, but hasn't offered a rescue plan for the long run. It's not just the growing number of beneficiaries as the baby boom generation continues moving into retirement.

The report said the less favorable outlook for Medicare's hospital trust fund resulted from "adverse changes" in program income and costs.

Medicare Part A's trust fund is funded through payroll taxes, split between employer and employee.

Democrats, meanwhile, want to extend the social safety net by spending more on health care and education.

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