Social Security Trust Fund a Tad Rockier Than Believed


With the certainty of a Hollywood doomsday asteroid, we know that the financial day of reckoning for Social Security approaches. But whereas giant rocks from space loom ever closer at a steady pace until Bruce Willis drops by to blast them to smithereens, Social Security's demise seems to be accelerating. At least, that's what Investor's Business Daily tells us after running the numbers.

Social Security's financial outlook took another hit this week, as the Congressional Budget Office hiked its estimate for cash deficits from 2013 to 2022 by $212 billion.

The wider deficits — mainly due to weaker revenue estimates — mean a quicker depletion of Social Security's trust fund, after which the program could only afford to pay about 75% of benefits.

Last year, IBD was on the money in predicting, based on CBO's 10-year outlook, that the Social Security Administration would move up the trust fund exhaustion date to 2033 from 2036. Now IBD finds that CBO's fresh estimates point to the trust fund running dry in 2031, though the retirement program's actuaries don't rely on CBO data.

The CBO's latest figures are here (PDF), by the way. You'll notice that the numbers show the Disability Insurance trust fund running out in 2016, though the document assumes that benefits will continue to be paid in full. That's because the law requires the CBO to make that assumption.

But, of course, pay no attention. There's nothing to see here.

Note: As pointed out in the comments, there is no Social Security trust fund, in reality. However, using the government's own phony-baloney assumptions, matters look not so good.