Social Security’s Financial Outlook: The 2021 Update in Perspective

IB#21-15

The brief’s key findings are:

  • The 2021 Trustees Report anticipates that the short-term effects of COVID will dissipate quickly, so the trust fund’s depletion date moved only from 2035 to 2034.
  • For the long-run, the Trustees changed three ultimate assumptions – a higher fertility rate, slower mortality gains, and a lower unemployment rate – all of which improved the 75-year outlook.
  • Yet, the 75-year deficit grew from 3.21 percent to 3.54 percent of taxable payrolls due to various data updates and methodological changes – most importantly, a new methodology for estimating fertility.
  • While the increase in the 75-year deficit is not a COVID story, the pandemic has underscored Social Security’s vital role in providing steady income to beneficiaries and serving as a safety net for older workers.
  • To maintain public confidence in this valuable program and to avoid precipitous cuts in 2034, Congress should fix its finances.

The CRR wants to hear from our website users like you. Would be you willing to take a short survey?

Yes, take me to it.       No, thanks.      Not now, but ask me later.