America’s aging population — increased by millions of retiring baby boomers — is straining both Social Security and Medicare. Potential options to reduce Social Security costs include raising the full retirement age, which already is being gradually increased to 67, reducing annual benefit increases and limiting benefits for wealthier Americans.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner listens during a news conference on the Social Security and Medicare Trustees Reports, Monday, April 23, 2012, at the Treasury Department in Washington.
Social Security is rushing even faster toward insolvency, driven by retiring baby boomers, a weak economy and politicians’ reluctance to take painful action to fix the huge retirement and disability program.
The trust funds that support Social Security will run dry in 2033 — three years earlier than previously projected — the government said Monday.
There was no change in the year that Medicare’s hospital insurance fund is projected to run out of money. It’s still 2024. The program’s trustees, however, said the pace of Medicare spending continues to accelerate. Congress enacted a 2 percent cut for Medicare last year, and that is the main reason the trust fund exhaustion date did not advance.
The trustees who oversee both programs say high energy prices are suppressing workers’ wages, a trend they see continuing. They also expect people to work fewer hours than previously projected, even after the economy recovers. Both trends would lead to lower payroll tax receipts, which support both programs.
Unless Congress acts — and forcefully — payments to millions of Americans could be cut.