Many Americans may find themselves without adequate retirement savings due to rising health care costs, limited Social Security funds, and debt—both personal and public.
Social Security Programs
The Basic Problem
The vast majority of Americans are either contributing to or receiving Social Security benefits. But as the population ages and labor force growth slows, Social Security programs are being stretched to the limit. Put simply, Social Security programs now cost more than the government collects to fund them.
Social Security’s assets are in two trust funds—one for Disability Insurance (DI) and one for Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI). Costs began to exceed revenues for the DI trust fund in 2005 and for the OASI trust fund in 2010. And the gap between costs and revenue for these programs is projected to continue, with the trust funds becoming depleted in the next few decades. Once this happens, the programs won’t have sufficient income to pay full scheduled benefits.Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) and Disability Insurance (DI) Costs Have Exceeded Non-Interest Revenues
Note: This figure presents the past and projected annual non-interest revenue (revenues from payroll taxes, taxation of benefits, and general fund reimbursements) and costs for both programs, expressed as a percentage of taxable payroll, for every fifth year. The difference between the revenue and cost rates is the trust funds’ “balance” for the year. The concepts of revenue and cost rates are important for considering the long-term status of the trust funds
An overview of Social Security's financial challenges and options to address them.
Social Security Q&A
Our 2015 Guide to Key Questions about Social Security’s Future presents the facts on Social Security's financial challenges, options to address them, and tools to evaluate what they mean for the future. For example, our Social Security Guide answers questions like:
- What are the root causes of Social Security’s financial challenges?
- What options have been proposed for changing Old-Age and Survivor insurance?
- What options have been proposed for changing the Disability Insurance program?
Related GAO Reports
- Social Security's Future: Answers to Key Questions
GAO-16-75SP, Oct 27, 2015
- Social Security Offsets: Improvements to Program Design Could Better Assist Older Student Loan Borrowers with Obtaining Permitted Relief
GAO-17-45, Dec 20, 2016
- Social Security: Improvements to Claims Process Could Help People Make Better Informed Decisions about Retirement Benefits
GAO-16-786, Sep 14, 2016
- Retirement Security: Shorter Life Expectancy Reduces Projected Lifetime Benefits for Lower Earners
GAO-16-354, Apr 4, 2016
- Social Security Disability Benefits: Agency Could Improve Oversight of Representatives Providing Disability Advocacy Services
GAO-15-62, Jan 5, 2015
- Charles Jeszeck
- Retirement Security and Social Security