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  #781  
Old 06-08-2017, 06:06 PM
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Oh, I'm sure Social Security will always provide enough benefits to get you to the poverty line. I wouldn't count on much past that.
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  #782  
Old 06-23-2017, 10:41 AM
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http://www.nwitimes.com/business/inv...cb32ce283.html

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With This Social Security Slip-Up, Trump Is Following in Obama's Footsteps

Donald Trump and Barack Obama probably don't agree on many things, and their views on Social Security reflect very different approaches to the system. Yet at least in one respect, the two U.S. presidents agree on Social Security: Neither one's administration met its legal responsibility to have the trustees of the Social Security Trust Fund issue their annual report in a timely manner. With the report already more than two and a half months late, it's unclear whether President Trump will end up doing a better or worse job than President Obama did in getting information to the public about Social Security's financial prospects.

What the government is supposed to do
Every year, the trustees of the Social Security Trust Fund are required to give a report about what's happened with the program's finances. In particular, Section 201(c)(2) of the Social Security Act makes it clear that the trustees must report "on the operation of the Trust Funds during the preceding fiscal year and on their expected operation and status during the next ensuing five fiscal years."

The law goes on to specify exactly what needs to be included in the report. The Trustees Report has a statement of trust assets as well as disbursements made from the Trust Funds. It needs to include estimates of future income and payments for at least the next five years, as well as an update on the actuarial status of the Trust Funds. The Trustees must make a statement about whether the two Social Security Trust Funds are in close actuarial balance, with an actuarial opinion from the federal government's chief actuary that the methodology and techniques used are generally accepted and use reasonable assumptions and estimates.

The federal law also mandates a timeline for the trustees to make their report. If the report is made later than the first day of April, then it's considered late under the provision. However, there's no stated penalty for being late in the law.

A history of tardiness
In President Obama's eight years in office, the Social Security Trustees -- which include the secretaries of the treasury, labor, and health and human services, as well the commissioner of the Social Security Administration -- never issued their report on time. The best effort they made was in 2012, when the report was sent to Congress on April 23. Their worst offense came in 2010, when the report wasn't transmitted to lawmakers until Aug. 5.

Meanwhile, President Trump has already missed the April 1 deadline, and it's unclear when the 2017 Social Security Trustees Report will be available. As with all incoming administrations, the need to confirm cabinet members led to some discontinuity in the months leading up to the deadline. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin wasn't confirmed until Feb. 13, and Tom Price wasn't confirmed to run Health and Human Services until Feb. 10. With the failed nomination of Andy Puzder to head up the Labor Department, eventual Labor Secretary Alex Acosta wasn't confirmed until April 27. Nancy Berryhill was named acting commissioner of the SSA on Jan. 23, but the agency hasn't had a confirmed commissioner since early 2013.


Much ado about nothing?
Inefficiency in the federal government is nothing new, and it transcends partisan politics. With no penalty for being late with their report, the Social Security Trustees have routinely taken whatever time they judge necessary to issue a full report.

In the end, whenever the 2017 Social Security Trustees Report becomes available, it's likely to have a similar message for its readers. Last year's report included predictions that the Trust Funds would collectively run out of money in 2034, which was the same date as the previous year's report. It found that without changes, the program would only be able to pay out 77% of benefits once the Trust Funds were exhausted. Possible solutions included an immediate 2.58-percentage-point increase in the payroll tax rate or an immediate 16% cut in benefits. Waiting until later to make changes would require even more dramatic tax increases or benefit cuts.

In the battle of political rhetoric in Washington, President Trump has worked hard to distance himself from President Obama on a number of issues. However, with respect to getting the Social Security Trustees Report on time, the current president has already missed an opportunity to be more timely than his predecessor in getting vital information about Social Security to the public.

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  #783  
Old 07-06-2017, 12:49 PM
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http://www.marketwatch.com/story/soc...-us-2017-07-05

Quote:
Opinion: Social Security is the biggest challenge facing us
.....
For all the head space and hand-wringing we devote to the ideal of our nation’s government, one issue that never seems to come up is Social Security and the woeful state of American retirement.

That’s a huge mistake — and one that could have grave repercussions for Americans of all ages, all political persuasions, all income levels and all races.

Here’s why:

Nobody is saving for retirement: Whatever data you look at, the state of American saving is grim. Data from the National Institute on Retirement Security indicates 45% of Americans don’t have a dime saved for retirement. Even more disturbing, the median savings amount for those near retirement — that is, those ages 55-64 without many working years left to play catch-up — is just $12,000.

Also read: The typical couple has only $5,000 saved for retirement

Fewer employers have 401(k)s: Those figures are correlated to a steady decline in workplace-provided retirement plans. According to the NIRS study, just 52% of U.S. employers sponsor some kind of retirement plan like a 401(k) for their workers — the lowest level since 1979.

Almost nobody has a pension anymore: According to a Pew Charitable Trusts survey released in February, just 13% of Baby Boomers born between 1946 and 1964 have a traditional pension plan; for the Millennial generation born between 1981 and 1997, that number drops by more than half to a mere 6%.

Some with pensions face benefit cuts: As I wrote here in March, some huge American pension programs are at risk of insolvency thanks to billion-dollar budget shortfalls. Both government and private-employer pension programs are grappling with recipients who are living longer and the low-interest rate environment providing smaller investment returns. The result could be more pensions making moves like a Cleveland iron workers retirement fund did in January, cutting benefits by about 20% on average in a goal to keep the program afloat — albeit in a diminished form.

Social Security is in trouble: Amid all this, Social Security continues along its path to a financial reckoning. The program is projected to exhaust its Trust Funds in 2034, forcing large cuts in benefits, even as both the federal budget deficit remains stubbornly high and American retirement budgets remain tenuous at best.

This is a crisis that affects all of us.
......
But unlike issues like tax reform or health care, there is no heated public debate about the state of Social Security or the pending retirement crisis. There are no prominent opinion pieces on either Breitbart or Huffpost, no legislators on either side of the aisle pushing the agenda, no viral video clips of talking heads defending their turf on Sunday talkshows with witty one-liners.

Some might argue that the current issues of the day speak to the very nature of government — how taxes should be collected, or whether Washington should ever be in the business of health care. But the reality is that each of these those issues are partnered with the fate of Social Security and American retirement.

So spare a moment amid your Independence Day festivities this week to think about Social Security and the state of American retirement — and more importantly, to think on how policy in these areas should reflect American values.

And then, contact your elected representative in Congress.


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  #784  
Old 07-12-2017, 05:38 PM
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http://www.cnbc.com/2017/07/10/socia...ommentary.html

Quote:
Why this Social Security budget nightmare must be resolved now
The Trustees of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds will release their 2017 reports this summer.
The trust funds supporting disability, hospital and retirement/survivors benefits are in danger of running out.
Any solution will require some balance of increased taxes and, at least for some, moderation of benefit growth.
The House Ways and Means subcommittee on Social Security has set a hearing for Friday July 14 on the status of the trust funds

Lawmakers in Washington are consumed in bitter partisan battles over healthcare, tax, budget, and infrastructure policy, disputes that threaten to sever any remaining threads of bipartisanship. But when the Trustees of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds release their 2017 reports, expected this summer, the nation will be reminded that we face an even more consequential policy challenge: How to ensure that Social Security and Medicare will be able to provide reliable support to the millions of elderly and disabled Americans who are counting on benefits. Bipartisan cooperation and trust are essential to meeting this challenge.

The House Ways and Means subcommittee on Social Security has set a hearing for Friday July 14 on the status of the trust funds.

In their 2016 reports, the Trustees warned that the trust funds supporting disability, hospital and retirement/survivors benefits would be depleted in 2023, 2028, and 2035, respectively. The reports also outline the size of the benefit cuts that would occur if the trust funds are allowed to run out. Disability benefits would be cut by 11 percent, hospital insurance payments would be reduced by 13 percent and retirement/survivor's benefit reductions would be an unthinkable 21 percent. There is no reason to think that their 2017 reports will tell a fundamentally different story.

Delaying action until a crisis is imminent, which too often has been Congress's approach, would not only have adverse impacts on beneficiaries, it would severely restrict the remedies available to address the problem. Waiting to act could have devastating consequences.

Right now, if we maintained full benefits for those already eligible to receive them, it would require a 19 percent cut in benefits for all future beneficiaries to eliminate Social Security's financing shortfall in the absence of additional income. But if policymakers were to delay action until Social Security's trust funds are depleted, even eliminating payments entirely for newly eligible beneficiaries would not keep the trust funds solvent.

The long-term trust fund shortfall in Social Security alone is already much larger, in relative terms, than the one corrected through landmark changes to the program in 1983. Among other measures, those amendments gradually raised Social Security's full retirement age from 65 to 67, subjected half of the benefits to income tax for the first time, delayed cost-of-living adjustments and brought new federal workers into the system.

.....
It is difficult to imagine any bipartisan solution that will not require some balance of increased taxes and, at least for some, moderation of benefit growth. We and the other members of the Bipartisan Policy Center's Commission on Retirement Security and Personal Savings certainly found this to be true when developing consensus Social Security policy recommendations.

These proposals included gradually raising the full retirement age, increasing the payroll tax rate and the amount of earnings to which it applies, slowing benefit growth for higher earners, and strengthening the minimum benefit available to the neediest beneficiaries.

Enacting policies to restore financial balance to these popular programs will pose political challenges. But the consequences of bipartisan inaction are far more dire for beneficiaries, for taxpaying workers, for lawmakers, and for the nation as a whole. And time is running out.

Commentary by Charles P. Blahous III and Robert Reischauer who were the most recent public trustees for the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds. They are continuing independent analysis of trust fund finances for the Bipartisan Policy Center. Blahous currently holds the J. Fish and Lillian F. Smith Chair at George Mason University's Mercatus Center and Reischauer is a distinguished institute fellow and president emeritus of the Urban Institute.

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  #785  
Old 07-12-2017, 05:40 PM
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DISABILITY

http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-bl...ty-must-tackle

Quote:
A quandary Congress and Social Security must tackle

Whoever assumes control of the Social Security Administration under President Trump will have a big job. The next commissioner will have many challenges, foremost of which is ensuring the financial stability and service levels of the entire Social Security system. But that’s not all.

Another, lesser known crisis is brewing within Social Security. This one involves the disability program that is supposed to help millions of Americans but is actually ruining lives. Applicants to the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program are unable to work because of illness or injury. They already paid for the insurance through their payroll or FICA tax contributions when they were still working. Yet many of these same individuals are routinely forced to wait years to learn if they will get the benefits at all.

The Social Security Administration says reducing this backlog to acceptable levels will take five years, until 2022, extending a nightmarish situation. This is unacceptable.
One cause of this tragedy is lack of permanent leadership at the top of the Social Security Administration, a problem that only the president and Congress can solve. The agency hasn’t had a Senate-confirmed leader since 2013 when the term of Michael J. Astrue ended. Many other top executives there are also “acting” rather than confirmed.

.....
Former Social Security Commissioner Astrue worked to reduce an earlier backlog and was largely successful by 2012. But after his term ended and no permanent replacement was named, the agency’s budget and staffing levels declined and the backlog started to tick up again.

The president and Congress can reverse this dangerous trend. But first, the Social Security Administration needs to share its plan to eliminate the backlog with lawmakers and the American people. Part of that proposed upgrade should include the hiring of temporary staff, including retired judges and additional attorneys to help review cases, conduct hearings and draft decisions. The plan needs to demonstrate that the agency can change its approach and modernize how claims are reviewed.

The Trump administration should also consider increasing the use of so-called on-the-record decisions that do not require in-person hearings. Quality decisions of this kind can provide applicants with more certainty earlier in the process. What’s more, the consideration of claims should be based on length of time waiting for a hearing. In addition, the sickest individuals should be moved up the waiting list.

No matter what, these problems will not solve themselves and permanent leadership is needed. A Senate-confirmed Social Security commissioner would be better positioned to fight to ensure the efficient processing of deserving claimants regardless what the latest news about the disability program might be.
.....
Jim Allsup is chairman and CEO of Allsup Inc., a national disability representation organization and Social Security authorized Employment Network based in Belleville, Ill.


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  #786  
Old 07-17-2017, 06:10 PM
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http://www.cnbc.com/2017/07/14/socia...ommentary.html

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Social Security is fueling income inequality. Let's end it
Social Security is a misleading scheme and it's going insolvent anyway.
It was sold as an insurance plan, but it's really income redistribution that takes money from the less wealthy and gives it to the more wealthy.
It's time to phase out the program and give a real boost to the economy.

What if there was a financial scheme that took the money of younger working people and gave it to older richer people year after year?

What if that scheme relied heavily on a misconception that the money collected was being set aside for the contributor to get back at a later time?

And what if despite the fact that the law required every wage earner and employer to pay into this scheme, it still was running out of funds and spiraling toward disaster?

Actually, there's no need for "what ifs" because that scenario is actually happening, and has been happening for more than 80 years. It's called Social Security and it's way past time to end this scam if we want to keep the American dream alive.

The latest evidence came this week when the Social Security trustees released their annual report to the public. The report projects that the so-called Social Security trust fund will be tapped out by 2034, and at that point Social Security beneficiaries would have to start taking 77 cents on the dollar for their promised benefits. In other words, if you're a wage-earning worker 48 years old or younger, say goodbye forever to a good part of that paycheck withholding money.

It's not like any of this should come as shock to most of the people who will be affected. Gallup's polls of Americans aged 49 and younger have consistently shown that a majority of those Americans do not believe they will get Social Security benefits when they reach retirement age.

....
If the answer is because most Americans still want to help the elderly get by, that's a nice sentiment but it's misplaced. Older Americans aren't just doing okay. The latest extensive study of age-based wealth in the U.S. shows that a typical household headed by an adult 65 and older has 47 times the net worth of a household headed by younger Americans. Yep, Papa and Granny are loaded.

Now, helping older people who happen to be poor or on the margins of poverty is something different. But the cultural assumption many of us have about elderly folks needing more financial help in America is pretty much the opposite of the truth.

And Social Security is one of those things that's currently siphoning income from younger workers and giving it to older Americans who statistically need the money a lot less than the people providing it to them. That makes Social Security a bad case of Robin Hood in reverse.
.....
Commentary by Jake Novak, CNBC.com senior columnist. Follow him on Twitter @jakejakeny.


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Old 07-17-2017, 06:10 PM
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http://www.cbsnews.com/news/social-s...ees-pessimism/

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Why all the pessimism over Social Security?

In what has become an annual ritual, the Social Security trustees issued a stern warning this week to Congress in their latest report on the state of the federal retirement program and of Medicare. Their conclusion:

"Lawmakers have many policy options that would reduce or eliminate the long-term financing shortfalls in Social Security and Medicare. Lawmakers should address these financial challenges as soon as possible. Taking action sooner rather than later will permit consideration of a broader range of solutions and provide more time to phase in changes so that the public has adequate time to prepare."

Those findings had a familiar ring, echoing the same concerns the trustees have expressed for years about the funding level of Social Security and Medicare. What they gloss over is the viable long-term solutions for these issues.

Over the course of Social Security's 82-year history, the Social Security Administration has collected roughly $19.9 trillion in payroll taxes and other income, and paid out $17.1 trillion in benefits and other costs. This leaves asset reserves of more than $2.8 trillion at the end of 2016 in the two funds (Old Age and Survivors Insurance, and Disability Insurance).

The annual report typically focuses on the combined trust funds, referred to as the OASDI funds. The trustees forecast that the combined trust funds will be depleted in 2034, the same year as projected in the 2016's report. The projected 75-year actuarial deficit for the OASDI Trust Funds is 2.83 percent of taxable payroll, up from 2.66 percent projected in last year's report. This deficit amounts to 1 percent of the U.S. GDP over the 75-year time period covered by the report.

Under current law, if the trust funds are depleted, then benefits will be reduced to the level that can be funded through payroll taxes collected from all workers employed at the time. The 2017 report projects that about three-fourths of benefits could be paid after 2034 if the fund is exhausted and Congress doesn't act to shore up the funding.

This is an important item to understand. If the trust fund is depleted, retirees would not have their benefits completely eliminated, as many people believe. Of course, a 25 percent haircut would be very bad news. However, Social Security's funding challenges cause many people to be too pessimistic, and believe they won't get anything from Social Security.

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  #788  
Old 07-17-2017, 06:13 PM
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http://www.truthinaccounting.org/new...uture-children

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News - Bill's Blog
Welcome to your government’s financial future, children
July 14, 2017

Yesterday, the Social Security Board of Trustees issued the annual report on the condition of the “Trust Funds.”

The report showed some marginal deterioration from the report last year, while the estimated insolvency date (2034) was unchanged from last year.
That’s just 17 years from now.

In arriving at the appraisal of Social Security finances, the Trustees report includes projections for tax revenue and benefit spending over a 75-year forecast horizon. These include projections underlying both an “open group” as well as “closed group” perspective. The “open group” is based on current and future participants, while the “closed group” perspective excludes future participants.

In the most recent Trustees' report, Social Security’s open-group unfunded obligation was reported at $12.5 trillion, compared to the $11.4 trillion estimated in the 2015 report.
Truth in Accounting believes a “closed group” perspective is valuable. In stripping out the present value of revenues and expenditures for future participants, the closed group perspective sheds light on issues relating to intergenerational equity.

On a “closed group” basis, the unfunded Social Security obligation (roughly $30 trillion) reported in the 2016 Financial Report of the U.S. Government was over twice as high as the “open group” estimate.

....
Addressing questions about the sustainability of government finances can get pretty complex. However, in complex situations, you can sometimes do simple and informative things.

The first chart below shows the number of times the words “sustainable” or “sustainability” appeared in the Financial Report of the US Government from 1998 to 2016.


Quote:
Things have been heading North, as concerns about the sustainability of Uncle Sam’s finances have intensified.

In turn, the next chart reports the number of times the words “unsustainable” or “not sustainable” have appeared in the same report, over the same time period.


Fairly simplistic, but it would be interesting to do textual analysis of all sorts of reports.
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Old Yesterday, 12:02 PM
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https://economics21.org/html/social-...ency-2450.html

Quote:
Social Security Slouches Towards Insolvency
Charles Hughes
JULY 14, 2017 BUDGET
Social Security is by far the largest government program, disbursing benefits to 61 million people with total expenditures of $922 billion in 2016. The program continues on its unsustainable fiscal trajectory, highlighted once again by the 2017 Social Security Trustees Report released on Thursday.
The Trustees report that the long-term actuarial deficit has worsened considerably, and America is one year closer to the projected trust fund exhaustion in 2034. Putting Social Security back on sound financial footing requires comprehensive reform, but there is little appetite for discussion of serious proposals. With each year of inaction, the fiscal outlook for the program gets bleaker, and the magnitude of the changes that will eventually have to make get larger and even more highly concentrated on younger generations.
Each year since 2010, Social Security has been operating at a cash flow deficit, meaning the annual costs exceed income from payroll taxes and the taxation of benefits. In 2022, the annual program costs will be more than total income, which also includes interest on the trust fund assets. At this point the trust fund will be drawn down. By 2034, the trust fund will be exhausted, at which point tax income would only be enough to pay for 77 percent of benefits. A person born in 1967 will reach full retirement age in the year the trust fund is projected to run out. Millennials will still have decades left in their working lives when Social Security is exhausted, and will live under a cloud of uncertainty until reforms are enacted.
The reports use a 75-year window for long-range solvency of the program, and the actuarial deficit over this period increased 6.4 percent relative to last year’s report. The present value of unfunded obligations over the 75-year window is $12.5 trillion, about $1.2 trillion more than in last year’s report. Some of the worsening is the changing projection period: as the fiscal situation deteriorates over time, moving the window forward with each successive report worsens the outlook. The shift in the valuation period only accounts for about 29 percent of the increase in the long-term deficit, while the “effects of recently enacted legislation, updated demographic and economic data, and improved methodologies” accounted for the rest of the increase.
Long-term demographic trends are a significant contributor to these problems. Due to the aging of the population and falling fertility rates, there are fewer workers for each beneficiary than in the program’s early years, which strains the financing. In 1950, there were 16.5 covered workers per beneficiary, and last year there were just 2.8. Absent immigration, this ratio will fall even further to 2.1 by 2036.

The imbalance in Social Security’s long-term outlook is predictable and unlikely to change, but that has not translated into a willingness to grapple with Social Security reform in a serious manner. The cost of inaction is high, as conveyed by the new report.
For illustration, to make the program fully solvent through the 75-year projection period, scheduled benefits would have to be immediately and permanently cut by an amount equivalent to 17 percent for all current and future beneficiaries. If no substantial reforms are enacted until the trust fund becomes exhausted in 2034, the benefit reduction would have to be 23 percent. As large as these required changes are, they assume that the reductions would apply uniformly to current seniors and future beneficiaries alike.
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Burn baby burn. Looking forward to the day when SS-retirement dies. SS retirement is one of the most evil of all the government programs.
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