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Social Security Finances: Findings of the 2012 Trustees Report

By: Virginia P. Reno, Elisa A. Walker, and Thomas N. Bethell
Published: April 2012

Social Security Brief No. 39

Summary: The 2012 Trustees Report shows that Social Security is 100 percent solvent until 2033, but faces a moderate long-term shortfall. In 2011, Social Security had a surplus – revenue plus interest income in excess of outgo – of $69 billion. Reserves are projected to grow to $3.1 trillion by the end of 2020. Then, if Congress takes no action in the meantime, reserves would start to be drawn down to pay benefits. In the highly unlikely event that Congress does not act before 2033, the reserves would be depleted and revenue coming into the trust funds from workers’ and employers’ contributions would cover about 75 percent of scheduled benefits (and administrative costs, which are less than 1 percent of outgo). While the trustees’ projections indicate that major changes are not needed, modest changes should be made in a timely manner and can bring Social Security into long-term balance.. 

For more information, see Quick Answers to Common Questions about Social Security.