Social Security’s Financial Outlook: The 2010 Update in Perspective

Alicia H. Munnell

IB#10-15

The brief’s key findings are:

  • The 2010 Trustees Report had no surprises – Social Security still faces a modest deficit of 2 percent of payroll, which is newsworthy given the economic crisis.
  • The recession has had some shorter-term effects:
    • prices are still below their 2008 levels, so beneficiaries are not expected to receive a COLA for the second straight year.
    • average wages have dropped, so the maximum contribution base and the exempt amount for the earnings test will stay at current levels.
  • For the third straight year, the Report was not signed by any public trustees; the absence of these independent voices reflects a failure of the political process.