Understanding The 2012 Trustees Report

On April 23, the Trustees of the Social Security Trust Fund released a “troubling” report,  “Projected Trust Fund Exhaustion Three Years Sooner Than Last Year“.  This report is the fifth disappointing report in a row.  The media has picked-up the normal static in headlines that seize eye, but provide articles that entirely miss the point: What is the future of Social Security?

The media tends to repeat what the Trustees said rather than considering what the Trustees said.  Headlines tune into the exhaustion point of the Trust Fund, but articles provide almost no information on the underlying assumptions on which that date is based.  The 2033 date is based on assumptions. If those assumptions fail to materialize, the Social Security system may be gone long before 2033. The reader should understand this: the Trustees find the 2033 date  “troubling”; what the reader should find troubling is the assumptions that the government used. This report and its coverage are wildly optimistic.


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