Social Security Funds to Vanish Even Sooner Than Expected

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Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, with a face reflecting both amusement and annoyance.
Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Although analysts previously believed that the Social Security well would run dry in roughly 2036, the government said on Monday that the trust funds supporting the system will actually be tapped out in 2033. The changed outlook is attributable to retiring baby boomers, a weak economy resulting in fewer payroll receipts entering the system, and lawmakers' reluctance to repair the program.

Medicare's hospital insurance fund is still projected to expire in 2024. If the Social Security or Medicare funds to get wiped out, the programs would only be able to collect enough to cover partial benefits, the trustees said.

"Lawmakers should not delay addressing the long-run financial challenges facing Social Security and Medicare," the Social Security trustees wrote. "If they take action sooner rather than later, more options and more time will be available to phase in changes so that the public has adequate time to prepare."

Put another way: Young people, Social Security had better not be your retirement plan.