Editor's Note: Below are the latest news and helpful information from the Social Security Administration press office:
Social Security Board of Trustees: No Change in Projected Year of Trust Fund Reserve Depletion
The Social Security Board of Trustees recently released its annual report on the long-term financial status of the Social Security Trust Funds. The combined asset reserves of the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Trust Funds are projected to become depleted in 2033, unchanged from last year, with 77 percent of benefits still payable at that time. The DI Trust Fund will become depleted in 2016, also unchanged from last year's estimate, with 81 percent of benefits still payable.
In the 2014 Annual Report to Congress, the Trustees announced: • The combined trust fund reserves are still growing and will continue to do so through 2019. Beginning with 2020, the cost of the program is projected to exceed income. • The projected point at which the combined trust fund reserves will become depleted, if Congress does not act before then, comes in 2033 – the same as projected last year. At that time, there will be sufficient income coming in to pay 77 percent of scheduled benefits. • The projected actuarial deficit over the 75-year long-range period is 2.88 percent of taxable payroll -- 0.16 percentage point larger than in last year's report.
"The projected depletion dates of the Social Security Trust Funds have not changed, and three-fourths of benefits would still be payable after depletion. But the fact remains that Congress can ensure the long-term solvency of this vital program by taking action," said Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security. "The Disability Insurance Trust Fund's projected depletion year remains 2016, and legislative action is needed as soon as possible to address this financial imbalance."
Other highlights of the Trustees Report include: • Income including interest to the combined OASDI Trust Funds amounted to $855 billion in 2013. ($726 billion in net contributions, $21 billion from taxation of benefits, $103 billion in interest, and $5 billion in reimbursements from the General Fund of the Treasury—almost exclusively resulting from the 2012 payroll tax legislation) • Total expenditures from the combined OASDI Trust Funds amounted to $823 billion in 2013. • Non-interest income fell below program costs in 2010 for the first time since 1983. Program costs are projected to exceed non-interest income throughout the remainder of the 75-year period. • The asset reserves of the combined OASDI Trust Funds increased by $32 billion in 2013 to a total of $2.76 trillion. • During 2013, an estimated 163 million people had earnings covered by Social Security and paid payroll taxes. • Social Security paid benefits of $812 billion in calendar year 2013. There were about 58 million beneficiaries at the end of the calendar year. • The cost of $6.2 billion to administer the program in 2013 was a very low 0.7 percent of total expenditures. • The combined Trust Fund asset reserves earned interest at an effective annual rate of 3.8 percent in 2013.
The Board of Trustees is comprised of six members. Four serve by virtue of their positions with the federal government: Jacob J. Lew, Secretary of the Treasury and Managing Trustee; Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security; Sylvia M. Burwell, Secretary of Health and Human Services; and Thomas E. Perez, Secretary of Labor. The two public trustees are Charles P. Blahous III and Robert D. Reischauer.
Social Security has zero tolerance for fraud and continues to take steps to prevent and combat it by establishing two new special fraud prevention units. The new units are located in the Kansas City region and the Western Program Service Center in the San Francisco region.
These two units follow March’s opening of the centralized fraud prevention unit in New York City. All three anti-fraud units collaborate with Social Security systems’ personnel to build data analytics to detect and prevent fraud at the earliest possible point in the disability decision-making process. The units work closely with the Office of the Inspector General to prevent, detect, and stop fraud.
Acting Commissioner Colvin’s message to those who would defraud Social Security is clear, “We will find you; we will prosecute you; we will seek the maximum punishment allowable under the law; and we will fight to restore the money you’ve stolen to the American people.”
If a member of the public suspects fraud, they should contact Social Security’s Office of the Inspector General at 1-800-269- 0271, or visit http://oig.ssa.gov and select "Report Fraud, Waste, or Abuse."
For many people, Someday is an elusive day on the far-off horizon—always seeming close enough to see, but too distant to touch. Perhaps Someday you plan to go skydiving. Or enter a hot dog-eating contest. Maybe Someday you plan to ride a mechanical bull. Or travel around the world. Or visit all of America’s national parks.
Someday, you will want to retire. If you are mid-career, Someday, you will need to start planning for retirement. Even if you are just now starting your career, Someday you’re going to want to see what your future Social Security benefits will be and check your earnings for accuracy. Someday has arrived. Open a my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount, and you’ll see what we mean.
Millions of people have opened a my Social Security account, and our Someday campaign will help millions more learn about my Social Security and sign up for their free online account. Someone opens a new account just about every six seconds. Tell your clients that Someday has arrived and encourage them to open a my Social Security account. Whether you share this important information during our upcoming National my Social Security Week (August 18-23) or any time, your clients will benefit.
Time flies, but we have the opportunity to change its course. Remember that movie series in which a time traveler from 1985 goes back 30 years to 1955 and then forward 30 years to 2015? That “future” is almost here. And the year 2025 is right around the corner.
How should Social Security look in the year 2025? We value your opinions and welcome your honest input about how you think Social Security should serve the public in the next 10 to 15 years. That is why we have begun to create “Vision 2025,” a long- term vision and strategic plan for Social Security’s future, and we want your help.
For additional information regarding Vision 2025, please visit our website: www.socialsecurity.gov/agency/asp/Vision2025.html
Faces and Facts of Disability
Social Security touches the lives of millions of Americans, often during times of hardship, transition, or uncertainty. Our benefit programs—retirement, survivors, and disability—offer financial protection for people and families in need. Today, 56 million Americans live with the challenge of disabilities—that’s one-in-five Americans. But it’s when we get to see the story of an individual that we come to understand the true face of disability.
Meet Jamey, a woman who was born with progressive nerve damage and was unable to find a good job until she was 35. “Social Security kept me from being homeless, and it motivated me to keep fighting harder to live the life I wanted to live,” Jamey said. She now works at a job where she helps empower people with disabilities. Learn more about Jamey and how Social Security helped her live a better life of helping others, atwww.socialsecurity.gov/disabilityfacts/spotlight.html. Jamey is just one of the real people you can meet at our website, the Faces and Facts of Disability. The website dispels the misconceptions about the Social Security disability insurance, or SSDI, program and tells the personal stories of the people who disability benefits have helped. The numbers and facts are important. But the inspiring stories of real people—our neighbors and family and friends—give the real picture of what disability benefits are all about. You can help us spread the word by submitting your own personal stories. Find out for yourself with a visit to www.socialsecurity.gov/disabilityfacts.
How can I sign up for or change direct deposit for my Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments? f you already get benefits and you have a bank account, you can sign up for or change your direct deposit by: • Setting up a my Social Security account and starting or changing your direct deposit online (Social Security benefits only); • Contacting your bank, credit union or savings and loan association; • Calling Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778); or • Completing a Direct Deposit Sign Up Form and taking it to your local Social Security office.
If you currently do not get Social Security or SSI benefits, but plan to apply, sign up for direct deposit when you apply for benefits. Have your checkbook or a copy of your bank statement with you when you apply for benefits.
What is the maximum Social Security retirement benefit payable? The maximum benefit depends on the age you retire. For example, if you retire at full retirement age in 2014, your maximum benefit would be $2,642. However, if you retire at age 62 in 2014, your maximum benefit would be $1,992. If you retire at age 70 in 2014, your maximum benefit would be $3,425.
What is the average monthly benefit for a retired worker? The average monthly Social Security retirement benefit for January 2014 was $1,294. The amount changes monthly.
How much is the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) and when will I get it? In 2014, there will be a 1.5 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for Social Security and Supplemental Security Income recipients. The COLA will begin with Social Security benefits paid to beneficiaries in January 2014 and SSI payments made on December 31, 2013.