2016 Social Security Trustees’ Report Shows a Large – and Growing! – Surplus

Yesterday, the Social Security Trustees released their annual report on Social Security’s finances, and the good news is that Social Security is going strong. The 2016 Trustees Report reveals that Social Security has a large and growing surplus —  $2.8 trillion in 2016, growing to about $2.9 trillion around 2019.  This news is particularly good for women, because women especially rely on Social Security. Social Security provides over 60 percent of the family income of women 65 and older; without Social Security, nearly half of them would be poor.  And Social Security isn’t just for retirement.  Minority women disproportionately rely on Social Security disability benefits, and almost 1.2 million children were lifted out of poverty in 2013 by Social Security.

You may hear a lot of noise about Social Security’s solvency, but here are the facts:

  1. Social Security will have sufficient income and assets to pay all benefits to America’s seniors, people with disabilities, and survivors of deceased workers, as well as all associated administrative costs, until 2034, without an additional penny of revenue.
  2. Social Security can continue to pay 79 percent of promised benefits and administrative costs after 2034, even if Congress takes no action. There is a long-term shortfall that needs to be closed—but Social Security isn’t going broke.
  3. For future generations, we can ensure payment of 100 percent of benefits with modest changes, like having high earners pay payroll taxes on all their earnings.
  4. Social Security is working as intended. The reason for building up the Trust Funds is to provide a reserve that can be drawn upon when needed. The Trustees’ annual report on the program’s long-term finances gives lawmakers years to make the additional adjustments needed to strengthen and improve the program for generations to come.

Given the facts in the 2016 Trustees’ Report, women of all ages and their families can continue to count on Social Security.