Social Security: What Would Happen If the Trust Funds Ran Out?




Social Security: What Would Happen If the
Trust Funds Ran Out?

Updated July 29, 2020
Congressional Research Service
https://crsreports.congress.gov
RL33514




Social Security: What Would Happen If the Trust Funds Ran Out?

Summary
Social Security’s receipts and expenditures are accounted for through two federal trust funds: the
Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) Trust Fund and the Federal Disability
Insurance (DI) Trust Fund. Under their intermediate assumptions and under current law, the
Social Security trustees project that the OASI trust fund will become depleted in 2034 and the DI
trust fund will become depleted in 2065. Although the two funds are legally separate, they are
often considered in combination. The trustees project that the combined Social Security trust
funds will become depleted in 2035 (under different assumptions and projection methods, the
Congressional Budget Office projected in 2019 that the combined trust funds will become
insolvent in 2032). At that point, the combined trust funds would become insolvent, because
incoming tax revenue would be sufficient to pay only about 79% of scheduled benefits.
Insolvency does not mean that Social Security will be completely broke and unable to pay any
benefits.
The 2020 intermediate assumptions reflect the trustees’ understanding of the status of the Social
Security trust funds at the start of 2020; they do not include potential effects of the Coronavirus
Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
If a trust fund became depleted and current receipts were insufficient to cover current
expenditures, there would be a conflict between two federal laws. Under the Social Security Act,
beneficiaries would still be legally entitled to their full scheduled benefits. However, the
Antideficiency Act prohibits government spending in excess of available funds, so the Social
Security Administration (SSA) would not have legal authority to pay full Social Security benefits
on time.
It is unclear what specific actions SSA would take if a trust fund were insolvent. After depletion,
the trust funds would continue to receive tax revenues, from which a majority of scheduled
benefits could be paid. One option would be to pay full benefits on a delayed schedule; another
would be to make timely but reduced payments. Social Security beneficiaries would remain
legally entitled to full, timely benefits and could take legal action to claim the balance of their
benefits.
Maintaining financial balance after trust fund insolvency would require substantial reductions in
Social Security benefits, substantial increases in tax revenues, or some combination of the two.
The trustees project that following depletion of the combined funds in 2035, Congress could
restore balance by reducing scheduled benefits by about 21%; the required reduction would grow
gradually to 27% by 2094. An alternative could be for Congress to raise the Social Security
payroll tax rate from 12.4% to 15.7% following depletion in 2035, then gradually increase it to
16.9% by 2094.
Trust-fund insolvency could be avoided if expenditures were reduced or receipts increased
sufficiently. The sooner adjustment to Social Security policy is undertaken, the less abrupt the
changes would need to be, because they could be spread over a longer period and would therefore
affect a larger number of workers and beneficiaries. As well, enacting adjustment to Social
Security policy sooner, rather than later, would give workers and beneficiaries more time to plan
and adjust their work and savings behavior.
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Contents
Introduction ..................................................................................................................................... 1
Background on Social Security ....................................................................................................... 2
The Social Security Trust Funds ...................................................................................................... 2

How the Trust Funds Work ....................................................................................................... 2
Trust Fund Receipts ............................................................................................................ 3
Trust Fund Expenditures ..................................................................................................... 3
Annual Surpluses and Deficits ............................................................................................ 4
Cash-Flow Surpluses and Deficits ...................................................................................... 4
Trust Fund Balances............................................................................................................ 4
Trust Fund Solvency ........................................................................................................... 4

Historical Trust Fund Operations .............................................................................................. 5
Surpluses and Deficits......................................................................................................... 5
Near-Insolvency of the OASI Trust Fund in the Early 1980s ............................................. 6
Recent Near-Insolvency of the DI Trust Fund .................................................................... 6

Social Security Financial Projections ........................................................................................ 7
Trust Fund Ratio ................................................................................................................. 7
Legal Background on Trust Fund Insolvency ................................................................................. 8
The Antideficiency Act ............................................................................................................. 8
Legal Entitlement to Social Security Benefits .......................................................................... 9
What Happens to Benefits in the Case of Insolvency? ............................................................. 9

What If Congress Waits to Act?..................................................................................................... 10
Benefit Cut Scenario ................................................................................................................ 11
Size of Benefit Cuts ........................................................................................................... 11
Payroll Tax Increase Scenario ................................................................................................. 15
Size of Payroll Tax Rate Increases .................................................................................... 15
Impact of Payroll Tax Increases ........................................................................................ 15

Conclusion ..................................................................................................................................... 16

Figures
Figure 1. Annual Net Change in the Balance of the Combined Social Security Trust
Funds, With and Without Interest Income, 1987-2019 ................................................................. 5
Figure 2. Actual and Projected Trust Fund Ratios, by Trust Fund, 2000-2065 ............................... 8
Figure 3. Benefits as a Share of Scheduled Benefits, 2020-2094 ................................................... 11
Figure 4. Replacement Rates for Retired Workers Who Claim at Their Full Retirement
Age Under the Benefit Cut Scenario, 2020-2094 ....................................................................... 13
Figure 5. Initial Real Annual Payable Benefits for Retired Workers Claiming at Their Full
Retirement Age Under the Benefit Cut Scenario, 2020-2094 .................................................... 14
Figure 6. Combined Social Security Payroll Tax Rate Under Current Law and Under the
Tax Rate Increase Scenario, 2020-2094 ..................................................................................... 15

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Tables
Table 1. Current Social Security Benefit Payment Schedule .......................................................... 9

Table A-1. Operations of the Social Security Trust Funds, 2019 .................................................. 17
Table B-1. Key Dates Projected for the Social Security Trust Funds as Shown Under the
Intermediate Assumptions in Trustees Reports from 1983 to 2020............................................ 18

Appendixes
Appendix A. 2019 Trust Fund Operations ..................................................................................... 17
Appendix B. Key Dates Projected for the Social Security Trust Funds ........................................ 18

Contacts
Author Information ........................................................................................................................ 19
Acknowledgments ......................................................................................................................... 19

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Social Security: What Would Happen If the Trust Funds Ran Out?

Introduction
Each year when the Social Security trustees release their annual report, attention is focused on the
projection of the year that the Social Security trust funds will become depleted, that is, the year in
which the trust funds’ investment holdings in U.S. Treasury securities fall to zero.1 In their 2020
report, the trustees project that, under their intermediate assumptions and under current law, the
Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) Trust Fund will become depleted in 2034 and
the Federal Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Fund will do so in 2065.2 Although the two funds are
legally separate, they are often described in combination. The trustees project that the combined
Old-Age, Survivors, Disability Insurance (OASDI) trust funds will become depleted in 2035. The
2020 intermediate assumptions reflect the Board of Trustees' understanding of the status of the
Social Security trust funds at the start of 2020; they do not include potential effects of the
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Some Americans may believe that if the trust funds were depleted, Social Security would be
unable to pay benefits at all. However, in 2035, the first year of projected depletion of the
combined Social Security trust funds, the program is projected to have enough tax revenues to
pay about 79% of scheduled benefits; that percentage would decline to 73% by the end of the 75-
year projection period in 2094.3 Thus, although the trust funds would be insolvent upon depletion,
because they would be unable to cover 100% of expenditures with incoming tax revenues, they
would not be completely broke and unable to pay any benefits.
Although benefits are projected to be paid in some form, it is unclear how the necessary
reductions would be implemented, because the Social Security Act does not specify what would
happen to benefits if a trust fund became insolvent. One option would be to pay full benefits on a
delayed schedule; another would be to make timely but reduced payments.
This report explains what the Social Security trust funds are and how they work. It describes the
historical operations of the trust funds and the Social Security trustees’ projections of future
operations. It explains what could happen if Congress allowed the trust funds to run out. It also
analyzes two scenarios that assume Congress waits until the moment of insolvency to act,
showing the magnitude of benefit cuts or tax increases needed and how such changes would
affect beneficiaries.

1 The Social Security Board of Trustees presents an annual report to Congress on the current and projected financial
status of the Social Security trust funds (see 42 U.S.C. §401[c]). The board is composed of six members: the Secretary
of the Treasury, who is the Managing Trustee; the Secretary of Labor; the Secretary of Health and Human Services; the
Commissioner of Social Security; and two public representatives, who are nominated by the President for a term of
four years and subject to confirmation by the Senate. The trustees specify the assumptions about future demographic
and economic trends used in the projections; however, the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Office of the Chief
Actuary (OCACT) advises the trustees on the assumptions as well as develops and runs the computer models that
produce the forecasts. For more information on the Board of Trustees’ annual report to Congress, see U.S. Government
Accountability Office (GAO), SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE: Improved Schedule Management Needed for
More Timely Trust Fund Reports
, GAO-19-596, August 14, 2019, https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-19-596.
2 The Board of Trustees, Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Funds, The
2020 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability
Insurance Trust Funds
, April 22, 2020, Table IV.B4, https://www.ssa.gov/oact/tr/2020/tr2020.pdf (hereinafter “2020
Social Security Trustees Report”).
3 2020 Social Security Trustees Report, Table IV.B4.
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Social Security: What Would Happen If the Trust Funds Ran Out?

Background on Social Security
Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI), commonly known as Social Security, is a
work-based social insurance program authorized under Title II of the Social Security Act that
provides monthly cash benefits to retired or disabled workers and their eligible dependents and to
eligible survivors of deceased insured workers.4 Workers obtain insurance protection by working
for a sufficient number of years in jobs covered by Social Security. A worker’s job is considered
covered if the earnings derived from that job are subject to Social Security taxes and thus are
creditable for program purposes. In 2020, an estimated 178 million people (or about 93% of all
workers) will work in paid employment or self-employment covered by Social Security.5
Social Security benefits are based on a worker’s career-average earnings in jobs covered by
Social Security and are designed to replace a portion of the income lost to a family due to the
worker’s retirement, disability, or death. In April 2020, the Social Security Administration (SSA)
authorized benefit payments for 64.6 million beneficiaries, including 45.6 million retired workers,
8.3 million disabled workers, 4.7 million dependents of retired or disabled workers, and 5.9
million survivors of deceased insured workers.6 The average benefit payment issued that month
was $1,511 for retired workers, $1,259 for disabled workers, $644 for dependents of retired or
disabled workers, and $1,220 for survivors of deceased insured workers.7
The Social Security Trust Funds
How the Trust Funds Work8
Social Security’s receipts and expenditures are accounted for through two legally distinct federal
trust funds: the OASI trust fund and the DI trust fund. In the federal accounting structure, a trust
fund
is an accounting mechanism used by the Department of the Treasury to track and report
receipts dedicated for spending on specific purposes, as well as expenditures made to its
beneficiaries that are financed by those receipts, in accordance with the terms of a statute that
designates the fund as a trust fund.9 The OASI trust fund records receipts and expenditures
associated with retired workers, their dependents, and survivors of deceased insured workers,
while the DI trust fund records receipts and expenditures associated with disabled workers and
their dependents. The OASI and DI trust funds operate separately but are closely linked.10 Several
times in the past, lawmakers have authorized the reallocation of the Social Security payroll tax
rate to equalize the financial conditions of the two trust funds. In part because of those

4 42 U.S.C. §§401 et seq.
5 SSA, OCACT, Fact Sheet on the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance Program, December 31, 2019,
https://www.ssa.gov/oact/FACTS/index.html.
6 SSA, OCACT, “Benefits Paid By Type Of Beneficiary,” https://www.ssa.gov/oact/ProgData/icp.html.
7 SSA, OCACT, “Benefits Paid By Type Of Beneficiary,” https://www.ssa.gov/oact/ProgData/icp.html.
8 CRS Report RL33028, Social Security: The Trust Funds.
9 An account of the U.S. Treasury is designated as a trust fund by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in
consultation with the Department of the Treasury, if the fund’s authorizing legislation makes such a designation and if
the fund’s receipts are earmarked for spending on specific purposes or programs. Section 201 of the Social Security Act
(42 U.S.C. §401) authorizes the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) Trust Fund and the Federal
Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Fund and designates them as trust funds.
10 Under current law, the OASI and DI trust funds may not borrow from one another.
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experiences, analysts often treat the two funds collectively on a hypothetical basis as the
combined OASDI trust funds.
The Social Security trust funds, like most federal trust funds, have different attributes than trust
funds in the private sector. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) notes the following:
In the federal budget the meaning of the term “trust” differs significantly from its private
sector usage. In the private sector, a person creates a private trust fund using his or her own
assets to benefit a stated individual(s). The creator of the trust names a trustee who has a
fiduciary responsibility to manage the designated assets in accordance with the stipulations
of the trust. In the federal sector, the Congress creates a federal trust fund in law and
designates a funding source to benefit stated groups or individuals. However, in contrast to
a private trust fund, the federal government does not have a fiduciary responsibility to the
trust beneficiaries, and it can raise or lower future trust fund collections and payments or
change the purposes for which the collections are used by changing existing laws.
Moreover, the federal government has custody and control of the funds as well as the
earnings of most federal trust funds.11
Trust Fund Receipts
The trust funds’ primary source of revenue is the Social Security payroll tax, but they also receive
income from federal income taxes on benefits and from interest on the funds’ investment
holdings. The payroll tax consists of a 12.4% total tax on wages and self-employment income up
to the taxable maximum, which in 2020 is $137,700 and generally increases annually with
average wage growth in the economy.12 Of the 12.4% total, 10.6% is credited to the OASI trust
fund and 1.8% to the DI trust fund.13 Some Social Security benefits paid to people with incomes
above a certain threshold are subject to federal income tax.14 Most of the resulting revenue is
credited to the Social Security trust funds, and some goes to Medicare’s Hospital Insurance (HI)
trust fund.15 In 2019, the combined trust funds’ total receipts were $1,061.8 billion, with 89.0%
from payroll taxes, 7.6% from interest income, and 3.4% from income taxes on benefits (see
Appendix A).16
Trust Fund Expenditures
In 2019, the combined trust funds’ total expenditures were $1,059.3 billion, with 98.9% for
benefit payments and 0.6% for administrative expenses (see Appendix A). The remaining 0.5%
was transferred to the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) as part of a financial interchange with
the RRB. This annual exchange of funds places the Social Security trust funds in the same
financial position in which they would have been if railroad service had been covered by Social
Security.

11 GAO, Federal Trust and Other Earmarked Funds: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions, GAO-01-199SP,
January 1, 2001, p. 7, https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-01-199SP.
12 42 U.S.C. §430 and 26 U.S.C. §§1401, 3101, and 3111. See SSA, OCACT, “Contribution and Benefit Base,”
https://www.ssa.gov/oact/cola/cbb.html.
13 42 U.S.C. §401(a) and 401(b). Both the total tax rate and the allocation of it between the OASI and DI trust funds
have changed many times; for historical rates, see SSA, OCACT, “Social Security Taxes Rates,” https://www.ssa.gov/
oact/progdata/oasdiRates.html.
14 CRS Report RL32552, Social Security: Calculation and History of Taxing Benefits.
15 CRS Report R43122, Medicare Financial Status: In Brief.
16 SSA, OCACT, “Trust Fund Data,” https://www.ssa.gov/oact/ProgData/funds.html. A very small amount of the
combined trust funds total receipts (about 0.001%) were transfers from the General Fund of the U.S. Treasury, which
occurred for several different reasons.
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Annual Surpluses and Deficits
In years when Social Security’s total receipts, including interest, exceed expenditures, then the
trust funds have an annual surplus. By law, that surplus is invested in special-issue U.S. Treasury
securities (i.e., nonmarketable government bonds), which are backed by the full faith and credit of
the federal government. In other words, Social Security’s cash surpluses are borrowed by the
General Fund of the U.S. Treasury. The Treasury, in turn, incurs an obligation to repay the bonds
with interest. These bonds are assets to the Social Security program but liabilities to the rest of the
government. In 2019, the combined trust funds generated an annual surplus of $2.5 billion
($1,061.8 billion in total receipts minus $1,059.3 billion in total expenditures; see Appendix A).
When the trust funds spend more than they receive in taxes and interest, they have an annual
deficit, which requires Social Security to redeem bonds accumulated in previous years. The
Department of the Treasury pays benefits with cash from general revenues and writes down an
equivalent amount of the trust fund’s bond holdings.17 In their latest report, the Social Security
trustees project that total expenditures for the combined trust funds will exceed total receipts in
2021, resulting in an annual deficit for the first time since 1982.18
Cash-Flow Surpluses and Deficits
An alternative measure of the trust funds’ finances is given by the cash-flow balance. That
measure does not consider interest income, so the trust funds run a cash-flow surplus when tax
revenues exceed expenditures, and they run a cash-flow deficit when they spend more than they
receive in taxes.
Total receipts for the combined trust funds in 2019 were $1,061.8 billion, with $981.0 billion in
noninterest income (i.e., payroll taxes and income taxes on benefits) and $80.8 billion in interest
income (see Appendix A). Because total expenditures for the combined trust funds in 2019 were
$1,059.3 billion, there was a combined cash-flow deficit in 2019 of $78.3 billion ($1,059.3 billion
in total expenditures minus $981.0 billion in noninterest income).
Trust Fund Balances
The balance of a trust fund is the accumulation of excess receipts over expenditures (i.e., the sum
of annual surpluses less annual deficits). A positive balance denotes the total amount of the trust
fund’s investment holdings in U.S. government bonds (also known as asset reserves). Annual
surpluses add to a trust fund’s balance while annual deficits reduce it. The annual surplus of $2.5
billion in 2019 increased the trust funds’ combined balance from $2,894.9 billion at the end of
2018 to $2,897.4 billion at the end of 2019 (see Appendix A).
Trust Fund Solvency
If the trust funds are not able to pay all of current expenditures out of current tax revenues and
accumulated trust fund assets, they are insolvent. Insolvency means that Social Security’s trust
funds are unable to pay benefits in full and on time. It does not mean that Social Security will be
completely broke and unable to pay any benefits.

17 See David Pattison, “Social Security Trust Fund Cash Flows and Reserves,” Social Security Bulletin, vol. 75, no. 1
(February 2015), https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/ssb/v75n1/index.html.
18 2020 Social Security Trustees Report, p. 2 and Table VI.G8 (Supplemental Single-Year Table).
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Historical Trust Fund Operations
The OASI trust fund was created by the Social Security Act Amendments of 1939 (P.L. 76-379)
and superseded the Old-Age Reserve Account established by the original Social Security Act in
1935 (P.L. 74-271).19 The DI trust fund was established as part of the Social Security
Amendments of 1956 (P.L. 84-880).20 Neither of the Social Security trust funds has ever become
insolvent. The trust funds have existed on a hypothetical combined basis since the DI fund was
first credited with receipts and debited for expenditures in 1957.
Surpluses and Deficits
The trust funds have run annual surpluses in most years. Except for the first decades of the
program and a few years beginning in the late 1960s, these annual surpluses were typically small
relative to the size of the trust funds’ expenditures. Beginning in 1975, the combined trust funds
ran annual deficits. The trust funds made up the difference between receipts and expenditures
during these years by redeeming some of the bonds accumulated in earlier years. In other words,
in those years, the Social Security trust funds received net transfers from the Treasury’s General
Fund.
The aging of the baby-boom population and the recent recession and subsequent weak economy
have resulted in higher expenditures and lower tax revenues for Social Security. Since 2010, the
combined trust funds have run cash-flow deficits (Figure 1), which are projected to continue
indefinitely under current law.
Figure 1. Annual Net Change in the Balance of the Combined Social Security Trust
Funds, With and Without Interest Income, 1987-2019

Source: Congressional Research Service (CRS), based on data from the Social Security Administration (SSA),
Office of the Chief Actuary (OCACT), “Social Security Trust Fund Data,” https://www.ssa.gov/oact/STATS/
table4a3.html.

19 The OASI trust fund became effective on January 1, 1940. For more information on the origins of the OASI trust
fund and the Old-Age Reserve Account, see Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust
Fund, First Report of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund, January 3,
1941, https://www.ssa.gov/oact/tr/historical/1941TR.html.
20 The DI trust fund was established on August 1, 1956. For more information on the origins of the DI Trust Fund, see
CRS Report R43318, The Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Fund: Background and Current Status.
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However, because interest income has exceeded the cash-flow deficit, the combined trust funds
have continued to run annual surpluses, which averaged about 4% of total expenditures from
2010 through 2019.21 Cash-flow deficits do not affect Social Security directly. However, if the
non-Social Security portion of the federal budget is in deficit, redemption of trust fund bonds puts
additional pressure on the overall federal budget.
Near-Insolvency of the OASI Trust Fund in the Early 1980s
In the early 1980s, a solvency crisis loomed for the OASI trust fund. The 1982 Social Security
Trustees Report projected that in the absence of legislative changes, the OASI trust fund would
become insolvent by July 1983.22 To relieve the pressure on the OASI trust fund temporarily,
Congress permitted the fund to borrow from the DI and HI trust funds through the end of 1982.23
On November 5, 1982, the balance of the OASI trust fund had fallen to zero, and continuing tax
revenues were insufficient to pay in full the OASI benefit checks that had been delivered on
November 3.24 To cover the shortfall, the Secretary of the Treasury authorized a $581 million loan
from the DI trust fund to the OASI trust fund. Additional loans from the DI and HI trust funds to
the OASI trust fund were made before the temporary interfund borrowing authority expired.
This measure gave policymakers time to develop a more sustainable solution to Social Security’s
solvency problem. The Social Security Amendments of 1983 (P.L. 98-21) increased Social
Security income and reduced spending. As a result, the combined trust funds ran significant
surpluses, which on average exceeded a quarter of expenditures from 1987 to 2009. The 1982
loans from the DI and HI trust funds to the OASI trust fund were repaid, with interest, by the end
of April 1986.25
Recent Near-Insolvency of the DI Trust Fund26
In their annual reports for 2012 through 2015, the trustees projected that the DI trust fund would
be depleted in late 2016 (see Appendix B). At the end of 2015, the balance of the DI trust fund
was $32.3 billion, down from $60.2 billion at the start of the year.27 The declining solvency of the
DI trust fund was the result of an imbalance between the fund’s receipts and expenditures.
Between 1995 and 2015, tax revenues to the DI trust fund were relatively flat as a percentage of
taxable payroll, whereas expenditures as a share of taxable payroll grew markedly.28 The increase
in expenditures stemmed largely from the growth in the number of beneficiaries in the program.

21 SSA, OCACT, “Social Security Trust Fund Data,” https://www.ssa.gov/oact/ProgData/funds.html.
22 U.S. Congress, House Committee on Ways and Means, The 1982 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the
Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Funds
, 97th Cong., 2nd sess., April 1,
1982, H.Doc. 97-163 (Washington: GPO, 1982), p. 2, https://www.ssa.gov/oact/tr/historical/1982TR.pdf (hereinafter
“1982 Social Security Trustees Report”).
23 P.L. 97-123.
24 Bruce D. Schobel, “Interfund Borrowing Under the Social Security Act,” Social Security Bulletin, vol. 46, no. 9
(September 1983), https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/ssb/v46n9/. See also Edward Cowan, “Leaders of Both Parties
Facing Tough Choices on Social Security Problems,” The New York Times, November 7, 1982,
http://www.nytimes.com/1982/11/07/us/leaders-of-both-parties-facing-tough-choices-on-social-security-problems.html.
25 SSA, “Research Note #4: Inter-Fund Borrowing Among the Trust Funds,” http://www.ssa.gov/history/
interfundnote.html.
26 CRS Report R43318, The Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Fund: Background and Current Status.
27 SSA, OCACT, “Time Series for Selected Financial Items,” https://www.ssa.gov/oact/ProgData/tsOps.html.
28 Taxable payroll is the total amount of earnings in the economy that is subject to Social Security payroll taxes (with
some adjustments).
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During that period, the number of disabled-worker beneficiaries increased by 113%, from nearly
4.2 million to more than 8.9 million.29
On November 2, 2015, President Barack Obama signed into law the Bipartisan Budget Act of
2015 (BBA 2015; P.L. 114-74). Among other provisions, the BBA 2015 authorized a temporary
reallocation of the payroll tax rate between the OASI and DI trust funds to provide DI with a
larger share for 2016 through 2018. Specifically, the DI trust fund’s share of the combined tax
rate increased by 0.57 percentage points at the beginning of 2016, from 1.80% to 2.37%. Because
the BBA 2015 did not change the combined payroll tax rate of 12.40%, the portion of the tax rate
allocated to OASI decreased by a corresponding amount. This means that OASI’s share of the
combined tax rate declined by 0.57 percentage points at the start of 2016, from 10.60% to
10.03%. At the beginning of 2019, the shares allocated to the DI and OASI trust funds returned to
their 2015 levels: 1.80% to the DI trust fund and 10.60% to the OASI trust fund.
Social Security Financial Projections
This report focuses on the trustees’ “intermediate” Social Security projections, which reflect their
“best estimates” of future demographic and economic trends.30 Under that set of assumptions, the
OASI Trust Fund is depleted in 2034 and the DI trust fund is depleted in 2065.31 Considered on a
hypothetical combined basis, the trust funds would become insolvent in 2035 (the intermediate
set of assumptions do not reflect any potential effects of COVID-19). However, the trustees’
projections—like all long-term projections—are uncertain. They estimate that there is a 10%
chance that the combined trust funds would become insolvent in 2032 or earlier and a 10%
chance that insolvency would occur in 2039 or later.32 Using somewhat different assumptions and
projection methods, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected in 2019 that the combined
trust funds will become insolvent in 2032.33
Even after insolvency, the trust funds are to continue to receive income from payroll taxes and
income taxes on benefits that would allow some benefits to be paid. The trustees project that,
under their intermediate assumptions, tax income would be sufficient to cover about 79% of
scheduled benefits following insolvency of the combined trust funds in 2035, declining to 73% in
2094.34
Trust Fund Ratio
To put the trust fund balance in context, analysts commonly consider the trust fund ratio: the
balance in the trust funds at the beginning of a year divided by projected expenditures for that

29 SSA, OCACT, “Benefits Paid by Type of Beneficiary,” https://www.ssa.gov/oact/ProgData/icp.html.
30 To estimate the future financial status of the trust funds, the Social Security trustees produce short-range and long-
range actuarial projections under three sets of economic and demographic assumptions: intermediate, low-cost, and
high-cost. Intermediate assumptions represent the trustees’ best estimate of the financial condition of the trust funds in
the future. The low-cost and high-cost sets of assumptions, on the other hand, depict extraordinarily favorable (low-
cost) or unfavorable (high-cost) possibilities for the trust funds’ future solvency. According to the trustees, “actual
future costs are unlikely to be as extreme as those portrayed by the low-cost and high-cost projections” (2020 Social
Security Trustees Report, p. 18). Unless otherwise specified, projections cited in this report are based on the trustees’
intermediate assumptions.
31 2020 Social Security Trustees Report, Table IV.B4.
32 2020 Social Security Trustees Report., Table VI.E1.
33 U.S. Congressional Budget Office (CBO), The 2019 Long-Term Budget Outlook, June 25, 2019, p. 23,
https://www.cbo.gov/system/files/2019-06/55331-LTBO-2.pdf.
34 2020 Social Security Trustees Report, Table IV.B4.
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year. The trust fund ratio thus represents the proportion of a year’s cost that could be paid solely
with the reserves at the beginning of the year. The ratio for the combined trust funds peaked at
358% in 2008 (Figure 2). The combined trust fund ratio declined to 273% in 2019 and is
continuing to fall. By definition, the ratio will reach zero when the trust funds become depleted.
Figure 2. Actual and Projected Trust Fund Ratios, by Trust Fund, 2000-2065
(trust fund assets at the beginning of the year as a share of annual expenditures)

Source: CRS, based on The Board of Trustees, Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability
Insurance Trust Funds, The 2020 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors
Insurance and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Funds
., April 22, 2020, Table IV.B4 (Supplemental Single-Year Table),
https://www.ssa.gov/OACT/TR/2020/tr2020.pdf (hereinafter “2020 Social Security Trustees Report”).
Notes: OASI = Old-Age and Survivors Insurance. DI = Disability Insurance. OASDI = Old-Age, Survivors, and
Disability Insurance. Projections are based on the trustees’ 2020 intermediate assumptions.
Legal Background on Trust Fund Insolvency
The Antideficiency Act
The Social Security Act specifies that benefit payments shall be made only from the trust funds
(i.e., only from their accumulated bond holdings).35 Another law, the Antideficiency Act, prohibits
government spending in excess of available funds.36 Consequently, if the Social Security trust
funds become insolvent—that is, if current tax receipts and accumulated assets are not sufficient
to pay the benefits to which people are entitled—the law effectively prohibits full Social Security
benefits from being paid on time.

35 42 U.S.C. §401(h).
36 31 U.S.C. §1341.
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Legal Entitlement to Social Security Benefits
The Social Security Act states that every individual who meets program eligibility requirements is
entitled to benefits.37 Social Security is an entitlement program, which means that the federal
government is legally obligated to pay Social Security benefits to all those who are eligible for
them as set forth in the statute.38 If the federal government fails to pay the benefits stipulated by
law, beneficiaries could take legal action. Insolvency would not relieve the government of its
obligation to provide benefits.
What Happens to Benefits in the Case of Insolvency?
The Antideficiency Act prohibits government agencies from paying for benefits, goods, or
services beyond the limit authorized in law for such payments. The authorized limit in law for
Social Security benefits is the balance of the trust fund. The Social Security Act does not stipulate
what would happen to benefit payments if the trust funds ran out. As a result, either full benefit
checks may be paid on a delayed schedule or reduced benefits would be paid on time.39 In either
case, total payable benefits would be lower than scheduled benefits.
To see how a delay could affect beneficiaries, consider the current Social Security benefit
payment schedule, shown in Table 1. (This schedule may be changed at the discretion of the
Commissioner of Social Security.)40
Table 1. Current Social Security Benefit Payment Schedule
Benefits Paid
On
Birth Date of Worker on Whose Record Benefits Are Paid
Third of every
Any birth date for:
month
(1) Social Security beneficiaries who also receive Supplemental Security Income benefits or
who reside in a foreign country, and
(2) Most beneficiaries who began to receive benefits prior to June 1997.
Second
1st to 10th day of the month
Wednesday
Third Wednesday
11th to 20th day of the month
Fourth
21st to 31st day of the month
Wednesday
Source: Congressional Research Service (CRS), based on 20 C.F.R. §404.1807 and Social Security
Administration (SSA), Office of the Chief Actuary (OCACT), “Cyclical Payment of Social Security Benefits,”
http://ssa.gov/OACT/ProgData/cyclicalpay.html.
Note: For beneficiaries scheduled to receive payments on the third of the month, benefits may be paid earlier if
the third is on a weekend or holiday.

37 42 U.S.C. §§402 and 423.
38 See 2 U.S.C. §622 for the definition of entitlement authority. Congress retains the right to modify provisions of the
Social Security Act at any time, which could affect the benefits current and future beneficiaries may receive (see 42
U.S.C. §1304).
39 The 1982 Trustees Report, which projected impending trust fund insolvency, stated that unless legislative changes
were made, “inability to pay some benefits on time would result” (1982 Social Security Trustees Report, p. 2 [emphasis
added]). That language suggests that after insolvency, full benefit payments would have been made on a delayed
schedule. The 2020 report uses more neutral language, stating that after insolvency, the trust funds would be “unable to
pay scheduled benefits in full on a timely basis” (2020 Social Security Trustees Report, p. 5).
40 20 C.F.R. §404.1807. For the payment schedule rationale, see SSA, “Cycling Payment of Social Security,” 62
Federal Register
6114, February 11, 1997, https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-1997-02-11/pdf/97-3205.pdf.
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New beneficiaries’ payment dates are generally based on their day of birth—for example, if the
worker covered by Social Security was born on the first of the month (e.g., June 1), his or her
benefit payment is made on the second Wednesday in the month.41
If trust fund insolvency caused delays in the payment schedule, benefit payments could be made
in the usual order—first to those who receive benefits on the third of the month, then to those on
the second Wednesday of the month, and so on, until the remainder of the trust funds’ balance
reached zero. At that point, no benefits could be paid until more tax receipts were credited to the
trust funds. Then benefit payments could be picked up where they left off when the trust funds
ran out. This cycle could continue indefinitely. The timing of these payments would be
unpredictable.
What If Congress Waits to Act?
There are many options to restore Social Security solvency, which could be combined or targeted
in a variety of ways. For example, Congress could decrease Social Security benefits. Benefit cuts
could be applied proportionately to all beneficiaries or structured to protect certain people, such
as disabled or low-income beneficiaries. Congress could also increase Social Security’s income
by raising payroll or other taxes or by transferring funds from the Treasury’s general fund. Payroll
tax increases could be applied proportionately to all workers or targeted to certain workers, such
as those who earn more than the taxable maximum ($137,700 in 2020).
The next section presents two policy options that could be implemented after the trust funds’
combined balance fell to zero to ensure a balanced system in later years:
 the benefit cut scenario, under which benefits would be cut across the board; and
 the tax increase scenario, under which the payroll tax rate would increase.
Both scenarios assume that current law would remain in place until the combined trust funds
became insolvent. If changes were made sooner, they could be smaller, since the burden of lower
benefits or higher taxes would be shared by more beneficiaries or workers over a longer period.42
Both scenarios would essentially convert Social Security to a pure pay-as-you-go system, in
which income and outgo are equal on an annual basis and there are no trust fund assets. These
scenarios are only two of a wide range of possibilities. When Congress last addressed Social
Security’s solvency in 1983, lawmakers employed a combination of tax increases and benefit
reductions to improve the financial condition of the combined trust funds.

41 For beneficiaries who receive Social Security benefits based on another person’s work record (e.g., spousal benefits),
their payment date depends on the birth date of the worker on whose record they receive benefits. The current benefit
payment schedule was first implemented for new beneficiaries in May 1997.
42 The trustees estimate that 75-year solvency could be restored through (1) an immediate payroll tax increase of 3.14
percentage points (from the current 12.40% to 15.54%), (2) a benefit reduction of 19% for all current and future
beneficiaries, (3) a benefit reduction of 23% for only those who become initially eligible for benefits in 2020 or later, or
(4) some combination of those approaches. If Congress waited until 2035 to act, the trustees estimate that maintaining
solvency over the 75-year projection period would require (1) a payroll tax increase of 4.13 percentage points (from the
current 12.40% to 16.53%) starting in 2035, (2) a reduction in scheduled benefits of 25% starting in 2035, or (3) some
combination of those approaches. See 2020 Social Security Trustees Report, pp. 4-5.
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Benefit Cut Scenario
Size of Benefit Cuts
If the trust funds were allowed to run out, Congress could eliminate annual cash-flow deficits by
cutting benefits so that spending equals tax income on an annual basis. According to the trustees,
achieving annual balance would require benefit cuts of 21% in 2035, the first year of insolvency,
rising to 27% by 2094.43 To maintain balance after 2094, the Social Security trustees project that
larger benefit reductions would be needed, because people would continue to live longer and
therefore collect benefits for longer periods.
Figure 3 shows the percentage of scheduled benefits that are payable each year with scheduled
revenues. One way to understand how such a reduction would affect beneficiaries is to examine
the effect on projected replacement rates and real benefit amounts for hypothetical workers.
Figure 3. Benefits as a Share of Scheduled Benefits, 2020-2094

Source: CRS, based on an OCACT memorandum from Daniel Nickerson, actuary, and Kyle Burkhalter,
actuary, to Chris Chaplain, supervisory actuary, and Karen Glenn, deputy chief actuary, “Current-Law OASDI
Payable Percentages: Current-Law Revenue as a Percent of the Cost of Providing Scheduled Benefits Through
Year 2093—Information,” April 30, 2020 (hereinafter “2020 OCACT Payable Benefits Memo”).
Notes: Projections are based on the trustees’ 2020 intermediate assumptions. In calculating the share of payable
benefits, OCACT limits revenue from the taxation of benefits to the amount that would be obtained from the
payable benefits.
Replacement Rates
One way of measuring the adequacy of Social Security benefits is the replacement rate, the ratio
of an individual’s program benefit to past covered earnings. Replacement rates can be calculated
in different ways. This report uses the following methodology employed by SSA’s actuaries.44

43 2020 Social Security Trustees Report, Table IV.B4.
44 Under the Social Security program, the replacement rate for retired workers is the ratio of the Social Security benefit
to the average of the highest 35 years of covered earnings, indexed to wage growth using the SSA’s Average Wage
Index (AWI). Other ways to measure replacement rates are discussed in Andrew G. Biggs and Glenn R. Springstead,
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Initial Social Security Benefit
Replacement Rate =
Career-Average Indexed Earnings from Covered Work
Social Security was established to replace income lost to a family as a result of the retirement,
death, or disability of a worker. To ensure that average benefit levels grow along with average
wages—thus keeping replacement rates generally steady—initial Social Security benefits are
indexed to wage growth. Historically, wages have generally risen faster than prices, allowing the
standard of living to rise from one generation to the next.
Figure 4 shows projected replacement rates under the benefit cut scenario for hypothetical low,
medium, and high earners who claim retirement benefits at their full retirement age from 2020
through 2094.45

“Alternate Measures of Replacement Rates for Social Security Benefits and Retirement Income,” Social Security
Bulletin
, vol. 68, no. 2, October 2008, http://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/ssb/v68n2/v68n2p1.html, and in SSA, OCACT,
Replacement Rates For Retirees: What Makes Sense For Planning And Evaluation?, Actuarial Note 155, July 2014, at
http://www.ssa.gov/oact/NOTES/pdf_notes/note155.pdf.
45 The low earner is assumed to have earned 45% of the national average wage (or $25,039 in 2020) when working and
to receive an annual Social Security benefit of $13,974 in 2020. The medium earner is assumed to have earned the
average wage (or $55,642 in 2020) and to receive a benefit of $23,049 in 2020. The high earner is assumed to have
earned 160% of the average wage (or $89,027 in 2020) and to receive a benefit of about $30,529 in 2020. For more
information, see 2020 Social Security Trustees Report, Table V.C7 (Supplemental Single-Year Tables) and SSA,
OCACT, Replacement Rates for Hypothetical Retired Workers, Actuarial Note 2020.9, April 2020, Table C,
https://www.ssa.gov/OACT/NOTES/ran9/an2020-9.pdf (hereinafter “OCACT Actuarial Note 2020.9”). For
information on the development of the hypothetical workers, see SSA, OCACT, Internal Rates of Return Under the
OASDI Program for Hypothetical Workers
, Actuarial Note 144, June 2001, http://www.ssa.gov/oact/NOTES/
note2000s/note144.html.
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Figure 4. Replacement Rates for Retired Workers Who Claim at Their Full
Retirement Age Under the Benefit Cut Scenario, 2020-2094
(initial benefits as a share of career-average indexed earnings from covered work)

Source: CRS analysis of data from 2020 OCACT Payable Benefits Memo and SSA, OCACT, Replacement Rates
for Hypothetical Retired Workers
, Actuarial Note 2020.9, April 2020, Table C,
https://www.ssa.gov/OACT/NOTES/ran9/an2020-9.pdf.
Notes: Projections are based on the trustees’ 2020 intermediate assumptions. Replacement rates are for
hypothetical earners who claim retirement benefits at their ful retirement age.
The Social Security benefit formula is progressive, so the replacement rate is higher for people
with lower lifetime earnings in covered employment or self-employment than for people with
higher lifetime earnings. In 2020, the estimated rates are 56% for low earners, 42% for medium
earners, and 35% for high earners.46
Because lower earners have higher replacement rates, the 21% reduction would result in a larger
percentage point reduction in replacement rates for low earners than for high earners. The
replacement rate for low earners would fall from 55% in 2034 to 44% in 2035, a decline of 11
percentage points. In contrast, the replacement rate for high earners would fall from 34% in 2034
to 27% in 2035, a 7-percentage-point drop.47
Real Benefit Levels
Another measure of benefit adequacy is initial annual benefit amounts. Since benefits are based
on workers’ lifetime earnings, higher earners tend to receive higher benefit amounts than lower
earners. In 2020, a hypothetical low earner is estimated to receive an annual Social Security
benefit of $13,974, a medium earner a benefit of $23,049, and a high earner a benefit of

46 OCACT Actuarial Note 2020.9, Table C.
47 CRS analysis of data from OCACT Actuarial Note 2020.9, Table C, and OCACT memorandum from Daniel
Nickerson, actuary, and Kyle Burkhalter, actuary, to Chris Chaplain, supervisory actuary, and Karen Glenn, deputy
chief actuary, “Current-Law OASDI Payable Percentages: Current-Law Revenue as a Percent of the Cost of Providing
Scheduled Benefits Through Year 2094—Information,” April 30, 2020 (hereinafter “2020 OCACT Payable Benefits
Memo”).
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$30,529.48 Figure 5 shows future initial real benefit amounts in 2020 dollars (i.e., after adjusting
for inflation), which illustrates how the purchasing power of benefits will change over time.
Because average real earnings generally grow over time, scheduled real benefits also grow. The
trustees project that scheduled initial real benefit amounts for hypothetical individuals claiming
retirement benefits at their full retirement age will increase by 20% between 2020 and 2035.49
Under the benefit cut scenario, real payable benefit levels are projected to drop by 21% after the
trust funds become insolvent in 2035, then to once again rise gradually.50 Under the trustees’
projections, payable benefits in 2035 would be about the same as payable benefits were in 2018.51
Figure 5. Initial Real Annual Payable Benefits for Retired Workers Claiming at Their
Full Retirement Age Under the Benefit Cut Scenario, 2020-2094
(in 2020 dollars)

Source: CRS analysis of data from 2020 OCACT Payable Benefits Memo and 2020 Social Security Trustees
Report, Table V.C7 (Supplemental Single-Year Table).
Notes: Projections are based on the trustees’ 2020 intermediate assumptions. Benefits are for hypothetical
earners who claim retirement benefits at their ful retirement age. After insolvency, scheduled benefits would
continue to increase because average real earnings are projected to continue to grow. Payable benefits would
therefore also grow over time fol owing the drop upon insolvency, though they would be permanently lower
than scheduled benefits. For clarity, scheduled benefits are shown only for high earners.

48 2020 Social Security Trustees Report, Table V.C7 (Supplemental Single-Year Table). Benefits in 2020 dollars with
retirement at full retirement age.
49 2020 Social Security Trustees Report, Table V.C7 (Supplemental Single-Year Table).
50 Immediately before the trust funds become insolvent in 2035, annual scheduled real benefits for individuals retiring
at their full retirement age are projected to be $16,787 for the low earner, $27,964 for the medium earner, and $36,650
for the high earner. The annual payable real benefits would be 79% of these amounts. See 2020 Social Security
Trustees Report, Table V.C7, (Supplemental Single-Year Table).
51 CRS analysis of data from 2020 OCACT Payable Benefits Memo and 2020 Social Security Trustees Report, Table
V.C7 (Supplemental Single-Year Table).
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Payroll Tax Increase Scenario
Upon trust fund depletion, the system could also be balanced by raising the payroll tax rate so that
the tax income would be sufficient to pay scheduled benefits each year.
Size of Payroll Tax Rate Increases
The trustees project that paying scheduled benefits after depletion in 2035 would require an
increase in the combined employee and employer payroll tax rate of 3.3 percentage points, from
the current 12.4% to 15.7%, after insolvency in 2035.52 To sustain balance, the payroll tax rate
would have to reach 16.9% by 2094, the last year of the 75-year projection period.53 Figure 6
shows the combined payroll tax rate under current law and the combined payroll tax rate needed
to pay scheduled benefits from 2020 to 2094.
Figure 6. Combined Social Security Payroll Tax Rate Under Current Law and Under
the Tax Rate Increase Scenario, 2020-2094

Source: CRS analysis of data from 2020 Social Security Trustees Report, Table IV.B1 (Supplemental Single-Year
Table).
Notes: Projections are based on the trustees’ 2020 intermediate assumptions. Under the trustees’ projections,
the current 12.4% combined payrol tax rate is sufficient to pay scheduled benefits prior to 2035 on a combined
basis.
Impact of Payroll Tax Increases
Raising the payroll tax rate would increase most workers’ taxes by the same proportion. However,
because covered earnings are taxable only up to a specified maximum ($137,700 in 2020), the
effective increase in the payroll tax would be smaller in percentage terms for people who earn

52 CRS analysis of data from 2020 Social Security Trustees Report, Table IV.B1 (Supplemental Single-Year Table).
53 CRS analysis of data from 2020 Social Security Trustees Report, Table IV.B1 (Supplemental Single-Year Table).
Under the tax rate increase scenario discussed in this report, the payroll tax rate would have to change each year,
increasing in some years and decreasing in others. Alternatively, the payroll tax rate could be permanently increased by
4.13 percentage points starting in 2035 (from 12.40% to 16.53%) to maintain solvency over the 75-year projection
period. See footnote 42.
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more than the taxable maximum than for other workers. Unlike the federal income tax, the Social
Security payroll tax is levied at a flat rate starting at the first dollar of earnings.
Conclusion
Under current law, the Social Security trust funds will almost certainly become insolvent.
Insolvency does not mean that Social Security will be completely broke and unable to pay any
benefits. The sooner changes are made to the program, the smaller and less abrupt the changes
would need to be to maintain solvency. Prompt action would also allow Congress to gradually
phase in changes, rather than abruptly cutting benefits or raising taxes, thus allowing workers to
plan in advance for their retirements.
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Appendix A. 2019 Trust Fund Operations
Table A-1. Operations of the Social Security Trust Funds, 2019
(in millions of dollars)
OASI Trust
DI Trust
Combined OASDI
Category
Fund
Fund
Trust Funds
Receipts
Payrol and Self-Employment Taxes
$805,091
$139,377
$944,468
Income from the Taxation of Benefits
34,890
1,583
36,473
General Fund Reimbursements
11
2
13
Non-Interest Income
$839,922
$140,962
$980,954
Interest
77,881
2,940
80,821
Total
$917,873
$143,901
$1,061,775
Expenditures
Benefit Payments
902,809
145,121
1,047,930
Administrative Expenses
3,733
2,689
6,422
Railroad Retirement Transfers
4,880
66
4,946
Total
$911,423
$147,876
$1,059,299
Balance (Asset Reserves)
Balance at the Start of the Year
2,797,872
97,057
2,894,929
Net Increase
6,480
-3,974
2,476
Balance at the End of the Year
$2,804,322
$93,083
$2,897,405
Cash Flow Surplus/Deficit (Net Increase in
-$71,430
-$6,915
-$78,345
Balance Less Interest Income)
Source: CRS, based on SSA, OCACT, “Financial Data for a Selected Time Period,” https://www.ssa.gov/oact/
ProgData/allOps.html.
Notes: OASI = Old-Age and Survivors Insurance. DI = Disability Insurance. OASDI = Old-Age, Survivors, and
Disability Insurance. The Combined OASDI Trust Fund values may not necessarily equal the sum of its rounded
components.
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Appendix B. Key Dates Projected for the Social
Security Trust Funds

Table B-1. Key Dates Projected for the Social Security Trust Funds as Shown Under
the Intermediate Assumptions in Trustees Reports from 1983 to 2020
Year That Total Cost First
Year of Projected
Exceeds Non-Interest
Year That Total Cost First
Depletion
Incomea
Exceeds Total Incomea
Year of
Report
OASI
DI
OASDI
OASI
DI
OASDI
OASI
DI
OASDI
Intermediate II-B Projectionsb
1983
c
c
c
d
d
2021
d
d
2047
1984
c
2050
c
2021
2012
2021
2045
2038
2044
1985
2050
2034
2049
2019
2010
2019
2032
2020
2032
1986
2054
2026
2051
2020
2009
2019
2035
2017
2033
1987
2055
2023
2051
2020
2008
2019
2036
2013
2033
1988
2050
2027
2048
2019
2009
2019
2033
2016
2032
1989
2049
2025
2046
2019
2009
2018
2032
2014
2030
1990
2046
2020
2043
2019
2008
2017
2030
2011
2028
Intermediate Projections
1991
2045
2015
2041
2018
1998
2017
2030
2011
2028
1992
2042
1997
2036
2018
1992
2016
2028
1992
2024
1993
2044
1995
2036
2019
1993
2017
2030
1993
2025
1994
2036
1995
2029
2016
1994
2013
2024
1994
2019
1995
2031
2016e
2030
2014
2003e
2013
2021
2007e
2020
1996
2031
2015
2029
2014
2003
2012
2021
2007
2019
1997
2031
2015
2029
2014
2004
2012
2021
2007
2019
1998
2034
2019
2032
2015
2006
2013
2023
2009
2021
1999
2036
2020
2034
2015
2006
2014
2024
2009
2022
2000
2039
2023
2037
2016
2007
2015
2026
2012
2025
2001
2040
2026
2038
2016
2008
2016
2027
2015
2027
2002
2043
2028
2041
2018
2009
2017
2028
2018
2027
2003
2044
2028
2042
2018
2008
2018
2030
2018
2028
2004
2044
2029
2042
2018
2008
2018
2029
2017
2028
2005
2043
2027
2041
2018
2005
2017
2028
2014
2027
2006
2042
2025
2040
2018
2005
2017
2028
2013
2027
2007
2042
2026
2041
2018
2005
2017
2028
2013
2027
2008
2042
2025
2041
2018
2005
2017
2028
2012
2027
2009
2039
2020
2037
2017
2005
2016
2025
2009
2024
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Year That Total Cost First
Year of Projected
Exceeds Non-Interest
Year That Total Cost First
Depletion
Incomea
Exceeds Total Incomea
Year of
Report
OASI
DI
OASDI
OASI
DI
OASDI
OASI
DI
OASDI
2010
2040
2018
2037
2018
2005
2015
2026
2009
2025
2011
2038
2018
2036
2017
2005
2010
2025
2009
2023
2012
2035
2016
2033
2010
2005
2010
2023
2009
2021
2013
2035
2016
2033
2010
2005
2010
2022
2009
2021
2014
2034
2016
2033
2010
2005
2010
2022
2009
2020
2015
2035
2016
2034
2010
2005
2010
2022
2009
2020
2016
2035
2023f
2034
2010
2019f
2010
2022
2019f
2020
2017
2035
2028
2034
2010
2019
2010
2022
2019
2022
2018
2034
2032
2034
2010
2019
2010
2020
2019
2018
2019
2034
2052
2035
2010
2036
2010
2020
2041
2020
2020
2034
2065
2035
2010
2041
2010
2021
2047
2021
Source: CRS, based on data from 1983-2020 Social Security Trustees Reports and information provided by SSA.
Notes: OASI = Old-Age and Survivors Insurance. DI = Disability Insurance. OASDI = Old-Age, Survivors, and
Disability Insurance.
a. Dates indicate the first year a condition is projected to occur and to persist annually thereafter through the
end of the 75-year projection period.
b. From 1983 to 1990, two intermediate forecasts were prepared (II-A and II-B). The intermediate II-B
forecast corresponds more closely to the intermediate forecast in subsequent years.
c. Trust fund expected to remain solvent throughout the long-range projection period.
d. Not available.
e. The Social Security Domestic Employment Reform Act of 1994 (P.L. 103-387) authorized a reallocation of
the payrol tax rate between the OASI and DI trust funds to ultimately provide DI with more revenue.
f.
The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 (P.L. 114-74) authorized a temporary reallocation of the payrol tax rate
between the OASI and DI trust funds to provide DI with more revenue for 2016 through 2018.


Author Information

Barry F. Huston

Analyst in Social Policy


Acknowledgments
Earlier versions of this report were written by CRS Analyst Will Morton and former CRS Analysts
Kathleen Romig, Christine Scott, and Noah Meyerson. All questions from congressional clients should be
directed to the current author.
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Disclaimer
This document was prepared by the Congressional Research Service (CRS). CRS serves as nonpartisan
shared staff to congressional committees and Members of Congress. It operates solely at the behest of and
under the direction of Congress. Information in a CRS Report should not be relied upon for purposes other
than public understanding of information that has been provided by CRS to Members of Congress in
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Congressional Research Service
RL33514 · VERSION 30 · UPDATED
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