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Social Security Finances: Findings of the 2019 Trustees Report

By: William Arnone and Griffin Murphy
Published: April 2019

Each year, the Report of the Social Security Trustees updates projections about the future finances of Social Security’s two trust funds, the Old-Age and Survivors (OASI) Trust Fund and the Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Fund. The 2019 Social Security Trustees Report projects that revenues will be sufficient to pay all scheduled benefits until 2035 and roughly three quarters of scheduled benefits thereafter. The DI Trust Fund is now projected to cover scheduled benefits until 2052 (compared with 2032 in last year’s Trustees Report), and the OASI Trust Fund until 2034. On a combined OASDI basis, Social Security is fully funded until 2035, but faces a projected shortfall thereafter, if Congress takes no action before then.

The 2019 Trustees Report shows that in 2018, Social Security income from payroll contributions, tax revenues, and interest on reserves exceeded outgo by $3 billion. Reserves, now at $2.9 trillion, are projected to begin to be drawn down in 2020 in order to pay full scheduled benefits. After the projected depletion of the combined OASDI trust funds, Social Security contributions and tax revenues would continue to be received and would cover about 80 percent of scheduled benefits (and administrative costs, which are less than 1 percent of outgo). Timely revenue increases and/or benefit reductions could bring the program into long-term balance, preventing the projected shortfall.