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Statement Of Kenneth S. Apfel Commissioner Of Social Security Concerning The Release Of The 1999 Annual Report Of The Social Security Board Of Trustees

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Tuesday, March 30, 1999 --- Cathy Noe/John Trollinger
For Immediate Release --- 410-965-8904 FAX 410-966-9973

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News Release

STATEMENT OF KENNETH S. APFEL
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY
CONCERNING THE RELEASE OF THE
1999 ANNUAL REPORT OF THE
SOCIAL SECURITY BOARD OF TRUSTEES

We are pleased to announce that the 1999 Report of the Board of Trustees Get Acrobat Reader indicates that the Social Security trust funds will gain two additional years of solvency. Instead of a projected exhaustion date of 2032 as reported last year, the trust funds are now expected to remain solvent until 2034.

The improvement in the financial condition of the trust funds is due to continued strong economic growth characterized by reduced unemployment, higher wages and low inflation. In addition, recent adjustments by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to improve the measurement of the Consumer Price Index contributed to the improved outlook of the Social Security program.

Social Security must remain a rock solid benefit that current and future beneficiaries can count on. Today's good news must not lull us into complacency. We should not just celebrate today's prosperity but use it to meet the challenges of the future. We cannot rest until we are able to meet our commitments to our youngest workers. Social Security must be on firm financial footing when they retire.

This strong economy has given us a unique window of opportunity to strengthen Social Security. By acting sooner rather than later, in good economic times, we can make gradual changes to the system that will allow people time to plan adequately for their retirement years. If we have the courage to make the thoughtful decisions for Social Security now, we will strengthen Social Security for future generations of Americans.

We believe wholeheartedly, that the President and Congress must continue bipartisan efforts to restore the long-term fiscal health of the trust funds. Without changes, the Social Security Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance Trust Funds will be able to pay only about 71 percent of benefits when the reserves are depleted in 2034. Devoting a portion of the budget surpluses to Social Security over the next 15 years is critical to achieving a balanced resolution to the Social Security shortfall.

The Trustees also reported that tax revenues will exceed expenditures until 2014, a year later than last year, when it will be necessary to begin using interest income to meet obligations. Beginning in 2022, trust fund assets will be redeemed to pay benefits until 2034. Over the next 75 years, the trustees projected that the actuarial balance is a deficit of 2.07 percent of taxable payroll compared to 2.19 percent projected in the 1998 report.

We must work together to make the decisions necessary to ensure that Social Security will be there for future generations. If we have the courage to act now, we can restore public confidence in our Government institutions and strengthen Social Security for future generations of Americans.

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Note: Copies of the Trustees' Report, SSA press releases, as well as other Social Security information and statistics, are available at SSA's Internet site, Social Security Online, at

www.ssa.gov
 
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