In the coming days, the six trustees that oversee Social Security and Medicare will release their annual reports on the federal benefits programs’ finances. The reports will not only discuss the current financial status of Medicare, Social Security, and Social Security Disability and related programs, but will also forecast the financial future of each program.
Although there are no details available yet, preliminary information confirms what has been widely reported to this date: each of these benefit programs is very real danger of running out of money in the relatively near future. In last year’s report, the trustees stated that the Medicare and Social Security trust funds would be tapped by 2029 and 2037, respectively. After another year of high unemployment and record numbers of applicants, it is unlikely that either program’s situation will have improved since the last report.
Medicare is, as expected, worse off than Social Security, largely due to rising health care costs and an aging population. Because of this, federal legislators from both sides of the aisle have agreed that they must soon address the health care program.
However, lawmakers are disagreeing on the future of Social Security programs. Senate Democrats, as well as President Obama, remain adamant that there will be no cuts to Social Security benefits. Republican leaders seem to have accepted this for the time being, stating that they will not seek Social Security cuts. However, it is clear that lawmakers will need to make changes to both programs in the near future, before either runs out of money.
The six trustees that are in charge of overseeing Social Security and Medicare include Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
Source: MSNBC, “Social Security changes off table; problems remain“, Stephen Olemacher, 13 May 2011