Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Feds Report Social Security On Solid Ground, Disability Insurance Trust Fund - Immediate Issues

WASHINGTON, DC – 58 million beneficiaries of Social Security received $812 billion in benefits in 2013. Yesterday, the Social Security Board of Trustees released its annual report on the long-term financial status of the Social Security Trust Funds. It is mostly good news. The Trustees projected that Social Security will be able to pay full benefits until the year 2033 and that Social Security remains well funded. However, the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Trust Fund will become depleted in 2016 unless Congress acts.

The combined asset reserves of the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Trust Funds are projected to become depleted in 2033, unchanged from last year, with 77 percent of benefits still payable at that time.

The Board of Trustees is comprised of six members. Four serve by virtue of their positions with the federal government: Jacob J. Lew, Secretary of the Treasury and Managing Trustee; Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security; Sylvia M. Burwell, Secretary of Health and Human Services; and Thomas E. Perez, Secretary of Labor. The two public trustees are Charles P. Blahous III and Robert D. Reischauer.

Because of the improving economy, the Trustees reported that Social Security remains well funded with total income projected to exceed benefits through 2019.

The Trustees reported a projected a Cost of Living Adjustment of about 1.5% in 2015.

The DI Trust Fund will become depleted in 2016, also unchanged from last year's estimate, with 81 percent of benefits still payable.

Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, said, "Congress can ensure the long-term solvency of this vital program by taking action. The Disability Insurance Trust Fund's projected depletion year remains 2016 and legislative action is needed as soon as possible to address this financial imbalance."

Max Richtman, President and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare told the Senate Committee on Finance during its recent hearing on SSDI, "This rebalancing has been done a total of eleven times since the DI trust fund was established in 1956, and can be done today without compromising the ability of the overall Social Security program to pay benefits for the next 20 years. Rebalancing should be done now and it should be done on a bipartisan basis, as all of the prior rebalancing decisions have been made."

He continued, "Social Security provides peace of mind for all Americans. Not only does it provide a foundation for a secure retirement, it also protects nearly all American workers and their families against the possibility of a life-changing disability or illness that prevents them from working."

The 2014 Trustees report also showed improvement in the Medicare Trust Fund as the rise in health care costs has slowed. The program is expected to pay full benefits until 2030. Medicare Part B premiums are not projected to increase in 2015.

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