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