Social Security and the U.S. deficit: Separating fact from fiction

social security handwriting
Image: Nick Youngson via Blue Diamond Gallery/Creative Commons 3, http://www.thebluediamondgallery.com/handwriting/s/social-security.html

For decades, some of our most prominent U.S. politicians have been sounding the alarm that Social Security is an important driver of the federal budget deficit. But is that really true?

By law, Social Security cannot contribute to the federal deficit, because it is required to pay benefits only from its trust funds. Those, in turn, are funded through a dedicated payroll tax of 12.4 percent of income, split evenly between employees and employers, levied on income (this year) up to $128,400.

The program’s revenue and expenses are accounted for through two federal trust funds that have operated with large and growing surpluses in recent years, and they finished fiscal 2018 with an estimated $2.89 trillion. By law, Social Security must invest these surplus funds only in special-issue U.S. Treasury notes, which have the same full faith and credit guarantee as any other federal bond.

This article puts a stake in the heart of most every criticism of Social Security you’ve ever heard — it’s a great review and summary of the facts. Now, if only certain elected leaders would read and take it to heart…!

Read more (Reuters) »

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