Is Social Security Going Broke?

04/24/12 Robert Lorei
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Good morning, welcome to Radioactivity. I'm Rob Lorei. The McClatchy News Service is reporting: "The nation's Social Security and Medicare programs are sliding closer to insolvency, the federal government warned Monday in a new report underscoring the fiscal challenges facing the two mammoth retirement programs as baby boomers begin to retire.

Medicare, which is expected to provide health insurance to more than 50 million elderly and disabled Americans this year, is expected to start operating in the red in its largest fund in 2024, according to the annual assessment by the trustees charged with overseeing the programs.

And the Social Security trust fund, which will provide assistance to more than 45 million people in 2012, will be unable to fulfill its obligations in 2033, three years earlier than projected last year.Social Security has a large and growing surplus, according to the 2012 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Funds, released today. Last year’s Report projected that at the end of 2011, Social Security would have an accumulated surplus of around $2.7 trillion, which it now has. This year’s report projects that in 2012, Social Security will run an annual surplus of $57.3 billion, causing the accumulated surplus to remain about $2.7 trillion by the end of the year:"

Our guest today is Nancy Altman who is co-chair of The Stengthen Social Security Campaign. Her group issued a press release yesterday in response to the trustees report which says:

“The 2012 Report provides journalists an opportunity to put to rest the common misunderstanding that Social Security is paying out more in benefits than it is collecting in income,” said Nancy Altman, Co-Chair of the Strengthen Social Security Campaign. “Social Security is prohibited by law from doing that. It can only pay benefits if it has sufficient income to cover all costs. Indeed, it is the most fiscally responsible and conservatively financed program that we have. Rather than frightening hard-working Americans who have earned their benefits and demagoguing the issue, policymakers should simply eliminate Social Security’s projected shortfall, still decades away, by requiring millionaires and billionaires to pay the same rate of contributions as most Americans pay. ”

Altman joins us now.

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