Social Security’s Financial Outlook: The 2017 Update in Perspective

IB#17-13

The brief’s key findings are:

  • The 2017 Trustees Report shows very little change:
    • Social Security’s 75-year deficit rose slightly from 2.66 percent to 2.83 percent of payroll.
    • The deficit as a percentage of GDP remains at 0.9 percent.
    • Trust fund exhaustion is still 2034, after which payroll taxes still cover about three quarters of promised benefits.
  • The shortfall is manageable, but action should be taken soon to equitably share the burden among cohorts, restore public confidence, and give people time to adjust.
  • Proposed solutions range from “all benefit cuts” to “all tax increases.” For action to occur, policymakers need guidance from the public on the desired mix.