Trust Funds

Financing

Workplace Injuries and the Take-Up of Social Security Disability Benefits
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 72 No. 3 (released August 2012)
by Paul O'Leary, Leslie I. Boden, Seth A. Seabury, Al Ozonoff, and Ethan Scherer

Workplace injuries and illnesses are an important cause of disability. States have designed their workers' compensation programs to provide cash and medical-care benefits for those injuries and illnesses, but people who become disabled at work may also be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) and related Medicare benefits. This article uses matched state workers' compensation and Social Security data to estimate whether workplace injuries and illnesses increase the probability of receiving DI benefits and whether people who become DI beneficiaries receive benefits at younger ages.

Managing Independence: The Governance Components of the National Railroad Retirement Investment Trust
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 71 No. 2 (released May 2011)
by Kevin Whitman

This article reviews the management components of the National Railroad Retirement Investment Trust (NRRIT) and their relationship to political independence. Centralized equity investment is sometimes proposed as a method for improving Social Security program financing and, echoing the debate over the NRRIT, politicized investment decisions are seen as one potential obstacle to the policy's success. This article does not advocate for or against investing Social Security's trust fund assets in equities, but examines the NRRIT's structure and experience to provide background information for policymakers.

The Future Financial Status of the Social Security Program
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 70 No. 3 (released August 2010)
by Stephen C. Goss

This article describes four concepts—solvency, sustainability, shortfalls, and solutions—as they apply to the financial status of the Social Security program as well as how Social Security financing fits in the general federal budget. The little-understood basis for future projected shortfalls is explained and detailed in relation to the possible solutions.

The Research Contributions of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 69 No. 4 (released December 2009)
by Steven A. Sass

This article reviews the research contributions of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College over its 10-year history and their implications for Social Security and retirement income policy in three major areas: (1) Social Security's long-term financing shortfall, (2) the adequacy of retirement incomes, and (3) labor force participation at older ages as a means to improve retirement income security. The center has received substantial funding support from the Social Security Administration (SSA) in each area and has also successfully leveraged SSA's investment by attracting funding from other sources.

An Overview of the Railroad Retirement Program
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 68 No. 2 (released October 2008)
by Kevin Whitman

The Railroad Retirement program was established in the 1930s. It provides retirement, survivor, unemployment, and sickness benefits to individuals who have spent a substantial portion of their career in railroad employment, as well as to these workers' families. This article describes the history, benefit structure, and funding of the Railroad Retirement program.

Estimating the First Instance of Substantive-Covered Earnings in the Labor Market
Research and Statistics Note No. 2008-04 (released September 2008)
by Michael Compson
Benefit Adequacy Among Elderly Social Security Retired-Worker Beneficiaries and the SSI Federal Benefit Rate
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 67 No. 3 (released April 2008)
by Kalman Rupp, Alexander Strand, Paul S. Davies, and James Sears

The federal benefit rate (FBR) of the Supplemental Security Income program provides an inflation-indexed income guarantee for aged and disabled people with low assets. Some consider the FBR as an attractive measure of Social Security benefit adequacy. Others propose the FBR as an administratively simple, well-targeted minimum Social Security benefit. However, these claims have not been empirically tested. Using microdata from the Survey of Income and Program Participation, this article finds that the FBR is an imprecise measure of benefit adequacy; it incorrectly identifies as economically vulnerable many who are not poor, and disregards some who are poor. The reason for this is that the FBR-level benefit threshold of adequacy considers the Social Security benefit in isolation and ignores the family consumption unit. The FBR would provide an administratively simple but poorly targeted foundation for a minimum Social Security benefit. The empirical estimates quantify the substantial tradeoffs between administrative simplicity and target effectiveness.

Stochastic Models of the Social Security Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 65 No. 1 (released May 2004)
by Clark Burdick and Joyce Manchester

The 2003 Trustees Report on the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance Trust Funds contains, for the first time, results from a stochastic model of the combined trust funds of the OASDI programs. To help interpret the new stochastic results and place them in context, the Social Security Administration's Office of Policy arranged for three external modeling groups to produce alternative stochastic results. This article demonstrates that the stochastic models deliver broadly consistent results even though they use significantly different approaches and assumptions. However, the results also demonstrate that the variation in trust fund outcomes differs as the approach and assumptions are varied.

Stochastic Models of the Social Security Trust Funds
Research and Statistics Note No. 2003-01 (released March 2003)
by Joyce Manchester and Clark Burdick
Actuarial Status of the Social Security and Medicare Programs
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 57 No. 1 (released January 1994)
Social Security and the Emigration of Immigrants
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 57 No. 1 (released January 1994)
by Harriet Orcutt Duleep
Actuarial Status of the Social Security and Medicare Programs
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 56 No. 1 (released January 1993)
Actuarial Status of the Social Security and Medicare Programs
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 55 No. 2 (released April 1992)
Would Monetary Policy Be Effective if the OASDI Trust Funds Held Most Treasury Debt?
ORES Working Paper No. 50 (released July 1991)
by Willem Thorbecke and Tarik Alami

As a result of the buildup of the Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) trust funds, the supply of U.S. securities to the public by the second and third decades of the next century might become extremely limited. While this increase in Federal savings would lower real interest rates and stimulate investment, the buildup would create a difficulty: it would force Federal Reserve open market operations to be conducted in assets other than Treasury securities. It is important to know whether monetary policy would continue to be effective under this new modus operandi. To answer this question it is necessary to have evidence concerning the transmission mechanism through which monetary policy affects the economy. Obtaining such evidence is especially important now since many economists argue that monetary policy works through a black box which we do not understand. Evidence demonstrating one channel though which monetary policy works is presented here. It is demonstrated that news of increases (decreases) in the Federal Reserve's target for the federal funds rate during the 1974–1979 period lowered (raised) stock prices. This period was unique because the Federal Reserve controlled its operating instrument, the federal funds rate, so closely that market participants were able to discern a change in the target on the day the target changed. This evidence supports the arguments of Tobin and Brunner and Meltzer that the stock market is an important link in the monetary transmission mechanism. The results indicate that if the OASDI trust funds purchased most or all Treasury securities, open market operations conducted using other assets would still be efficacious through this channel. By affecting bank reserves and thus the federal funds rate, these operations would influence stock prices and economic activity.

Actuarial Status of the OASI and DI Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 54 No. 6 (released June 1991)
Actuarial Status of the HI and SMI Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 54 No. 6 (released June 1991)
Social Security Technical Panel Report to the 1991 Advisory Council on Social Security: Appendices
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 53 No. 12 (released December 1990)
Social Security Technical Panel Report to the 1991 Advisory Council on Social Security
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 53 No. 11 (released November 1990)
Actuarial Status of the OASI and DI Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 53 No. 6 (released June 1990)
by Harry C. Ballantyne
Actuarial Status of the SMI Trust Fund
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 53 No. 6 (released June 1990)
Actuarial Status of the HI Trust Fund
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 53 No. 6 (released June 1990)
Actuarial Status of the OASI and DI Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 52 No. 6 (released June 1989)
Social Security Financing in North America
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 52 No. 4 (released April 1989)
by Harry C. Ballantyne
Actuarial Aspects of Financing Old-Age and Survivors Insurance
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 51 No. 11 (released November 1988)
by Robert J. Myers
Commentary: Actuarial Research and Analysis
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 51 No. 11 (released November 1988)
by Robert J. Myers
Actuarial Status of the OASI and DI Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 51 No. 6 (released June 1988)
by Harry C. Ballantyne
Actuarial Status of the HI and SMI Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 51 No. 6 (released June 1988)
Social Security Area Population Projections: 1987
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 51 No. 2 (released February 1988)
by Alice H. Wade
Economic Policy, Intergenerational Equity, and the Social Security Trust Fund Buildup
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 50 No. 10 (released October 1987)
by John C. Hambor
Actuarial Status of the OASI and DI Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 50 No. 6 (released June 1987)
by Harry C. Ballantyne
Actuarial Status of the HI and SMI Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 50 No. 6 (released June 1987)
by Barbara Klees and Carter Warfield
Actuarial Status of the OASI and DI Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 49 No. 7 (released July 1986)
by Harry C. Ballantyne
Actuarial Status of the HI and SMI Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 49 No. 7 (released July 1986)
by Barbara Klees and Carter Warfield
Actuarial Status of the OASI and DI Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 48 No. 6 (released June 1985)
by Harry C. Ballantyne
Actuarial Status of the HI and SMI Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 48 No. 6 (released June 1985)
by Sol Mussey
Actuarial Status of the HI and SMI Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 47 No. 5 (released May 1984)
by Sol Mussey
Actuarial Status of the OASI and DI Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 47 No. 5 (released May 1984)
by Harry C. Ballantyne
Actuarial Status of the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 46 No. 10 (released October 1983)
by Harry C. Ballantyne
Actuarial Status of the Hospital Insurance and Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 46 No. 10 (released October 1983)
by Roland E. King
Interfund Borrowing Under the Social Security Act
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 46 No. 9 (released September 1983)
by Bruce D. Schobel
Financial Status of the Social Security Program
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 46 No. 3 (released March 1983)
by Robert J. Myers
Actuarial Status of the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 45 No. 6 (released June 1982)
by Harry C. Ballantyne
Actual Costs of the Social Security System Over the Years Compared with 1935 Estimates
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 45 No. 3 (released March 1982)
by Robert J. Myers
Gifts to the Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 45 No. 2 (released February 1982)
Economic Forecasting: Effect of Errors on OASDI Fund Ratios
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 45 No. 1 (released January 1982)
by Dwight K. Bartlett III and Joseph A. Applebaum
Long-Range Projection of Average Benefits Under OASDI
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 45 No. 1 (released January 1982)
by Steven F. McKay
Investment Policies and Procedures of the Social Security Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 45 No. 1 (released January 1982)
by Robert J. Myers
Value-Added Tax as a Source of Social Security Financing
ORES Working Paper No. 23 (released September 1981)
by Sheng Cheng Hu

The data for this study are drawn mainly from the Consumer Expenditure Survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics during 1972–73. The respondents are divided into five income classes and two age groups. The focus of this analysis is placed on the consumption-type value-added tax.

Current Developments in Social Security Financing
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 43 No. 9 (released September 1980)
by Dwight K. Bartlett III
Social Security Financing
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 43 No. 5 (released May 1980)
Tax Impact From Elimination of the Retirement Test
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 42 No. 9 (released September 1979)
by Josephine G. Gordon and Robert N. Schoeplein
The Macroeconomic Effects of a Payroll Tax Rollback
ORES Working Paper No. 11 (released August 1979)
by John B. Hagens and John C. Hambor

In late 1977, the U.S. Congress passed Social Security legislation that included a series of increases in the payroll tax. These increases, which began in 1979 and carry on into the 1980s, substantially raise the projected levels of the Social Security trust funds. Since the amendments were passed, there has been some discussion and several proposals to roll back part of the tax. It is highly likely that additional rollback proposals will be made in the near future. The purpose of this paper is to shed some light on some of the macroeconomic effects of a payroll tax rollback.

Financial Status of Social Security Program After the Social Security Amendments of 1977
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 41 No. 3 (released March 1978)
by A. Haeworth Robertson
OASDI: Fiscal Basis and Long-Range Cost Projections
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 40 No. 1 (released January 1977)
by A. Haeworth Robertson
Questions on Social Security and the Future Work Force
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 39 No. 8 (released August 1976)
by Virginia P. Reno
Financing Basis of Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance and Health Insurance Under the 1967 Amendments
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 31 No. 2 (released February 1968)
by Robert J. Myers and Francisco Bayo
Annual Earnings and the Taxable Maximum for OASDHI
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 29 No. 11 (released November 1966)
by Michael Resnick
OASDHI Contributions on Cash-Payment Basis
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 29 No. 9 (released September 1966)
by Michael Resnick and Kenneth G. Sander
Trust Fund Operations
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 29 No. 7 (released July 1966)
by James S. Parker
Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance: Administrative Expenses
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 29 No. 7 (released July 1966)
by Robert J. Myers and Francisco Bayo
Trust Fund Operations
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 28 No. 5 (released May 1965)
by James S. Parker and Sophie R. Dales
Trust Fund Operations, 1963
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 27 No. 5 (released May 1964)
by Sophie R. Dales
Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance: Administrative Expenses
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 26 No. 9 (released September 1963)
by Robert J. Myers
Trust Fund Operations, 1962
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 26 No. 5 (released May 1963)
by Sophie R. Dales
Trust Fund Operations, 1961
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 25 No. 5 (released May 1962)
by Sophie R. Dales
Proposed Social Security Budget, 1962–63
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 25 No. 3 (released March 1962)
by Sophie R. Dales
Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance: Financing Basis and Policy Under the 1961 Amendments
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 24 No. 9 (released September 1961)
by Robert J. Myers
Trust Fund Operations, 1960
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 24 No. 5 (released May 1961)
by Sophie R. Dales
Special Issue Investments of OASDI Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 24 No. 3 (released March 1961)
by Robert J. Myers
Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance: Financing Basis and Policy Under the 1960 Amendments
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 23 No. 11 (released November 1960)
by Robert J. Myers
Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance: Administrative Expenses
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 23 No. 5–6 (released May 1960)
by Robert J. Myers
Trust Fund Operations, 1959
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 23 No. 4 (released April 1960)
by Sophie R. Dales
Proposed Social Security Budget, 1960–61
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 23 No. 3 (released March 1960)
by Sophie R. Dales
Seventh Actuarial Valuation of the Railroad Retirement System
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 22 No. 5 (released May 1959)
by Abraham M. Niessen
Trust Fund Operations, 1958
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 22 No. 4 (released April 1959)
by Sophie R. Dales
Management of Selected Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 22 No. 2 (released February 1959)
by Glenn D. Morrow and Sophie R. Dales
Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance: Financing Basis and Policy Under the 1958 Amendments
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 21 No. 10 (released October 1958)
by Robert J. Myers
Trustees Report on Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 21 No. 8 (released August 1958)
Trust Fund Operations, 1957
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 21 No. 4 (released April 1958)
by Sophie R. Dales
Payments into OASI Trust Fund from Contributions
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 20 No. 10 (released October 1957)
by Sophie R. Dales
Disability Insurance Trust Fund, January–June 1957
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 20 No. 9 (released September 1957)
by Sophie R. Dales
Trustees Report on Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 20 No. 6 (released June 1957)
Trust Fund Operations, 1956
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 20 No. 4 (released April 1957)
by Sophie R. Dales
Old-Age and Survivors Insurance: Financing Basis and Policy Under 1956 Amendments
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 19 No. 9 (released September 1956)
by Robert J. Myers
Trustees Sixteenth Report on OASI Trust Fund
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 19 No. 7 (released July 1956)
Trust Fund Operations, 1955
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 19 No. 4 (released April 1956)
Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Administrative Expenses
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 18 No. 7 (released July 1955)
by Robert J. Myers
Fifteenth Trustees Report on OASI Trust Fund
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 18 No. 5 (released May 1955)
Trust Fund Operations, 1954
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 18 No. 4 (released April 1955)
Trust Fund Operations, 1953
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 17 No. 4 (released April 1954)
Actuarial Aspects of Financing Old-Age and Survivors Insurance
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 16 No. 6 (released June 1953)
by Robert J. Myers
Trust Fund Operations, 1951
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 15 No. 4 (released April 1952)
Financial Policy in Old-Age and Survivors Insurance, 1935–50
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 14 No. 6 (released June 1951)
by James S. Parker
Trust Fund Operations, 1950
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 14 No. 4 (released April 1951)
Trust Fund Operations in 1949
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 13 No. 4 (released April 1950)
Trustees' Report on Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 12 No. 4 (released April 1949)
Trust Fund Operations in 1948
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 12 No. 3 (released March 1949)
Comparison of Actual Experience With Estimates in the Trustees' Reports
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 11, No. 5 (released May 1948)
by Robert J. Myers
Economic Factors in Long-Range Cost Estimates of Old-Age and Survivors Insurance
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 7, No. 4 (released April 1944)
by Michael T. Wermel
Actuarial Factors in Old-Age and Survivors Insurance
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 7, No. 4 (released April 1944)
Long-Range Trend in Per Capita Income and Wages
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 5, No. 12 (released December 1942)
by W. S. Woytinsky
Financing Old-Age Insurance
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 2, No. 4 (released April 1939)
by Eleanor L. Dulles
Cost Factors in Old-Age Insurance
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 1, No. 7 (released July 1938)
by W. R. Williamson
Accounting Operations of the Bureau of Old-Age Insurance
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 1, No. 6 (released June 1938)
by Joseph L. Fay and Max J. Wasserman

Solvency

Modeling Behavioral Responses to Eliminating the Retirement Earnings Test
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 73 No. 1 (released February 2013)
by Anya Olsen and Kathleen Romig

The retirement earnings test (RET) is an often-misunderstood aspect of the Social Security program. Policymakers have proposed reforming the RET as a way to encourage working at older ages. However, this could also cause earlier benefit claiming. We use Modeling Income in the Near Term data to analyze the complete repeal of the earnings test for beneficiaries aged 60 or older, first assuming no behavioral responses to repeal and secondly assuming changes to benefit claiming and workforce participation behaviors. Our lifetime results show that the assumed behavioral response—particularly the benefit claiming change—has a bigger effect than the RET policy change itself.

Mind the Gap: The Distributional Effects of Raising the Early Eligibility Age and Full Retirement Age
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 72 No. 4 (released November 2012)
by Anya Olsen

Policymakers have proposed increases to the early eligibility age (EEA) and/or full retirement age (FRA) to address increasing life expectancy and Social Security solvency issues. This analysis uses the Social Security Administration's Modeling Income in the Near Term (MINT) model to compare three retirement-age increases suggested by the Social Security Advisory Board: (1) increase the FRA alone, (2) increase both the EEA and FRA to maintain a 4-year gap between them, and (3) increase both the EEA and FRA to maintain a 5-year gap between them. This distributional analysis shows the impact these varying reforms would have on Social Security beneficiaries in the future.

The Evolution of Social Security's Taxable Maximum
Policy Brief No. 2011-02 (released September 2011)
by Kevin Whitman and Dave Shoffner

Since its inception, Social Security has featured a taxable maximum (or "tax max"). In 1937, payroll taxes applied to the first $3,000 in earnings. In 2011, payroll taxes apply to the first $106,800 in earnings. This policy brief summarizes the changes that have occurred to the tax max and to earnings patterns over this period. From 1937 to 1975, Congress increased the tax max on an ad-hoc basis. Increases were justified by the desire to improve system financing and maintain meaningful benefits for middle and higher earners. Since 1975, the tax max has generally increased at the same rate as average wages each year. Some policymakers propose increasing the tax max beyond wage-indexed levels to help restore financial balance and to reflect growing earnings inequality, as workers earning more than the tax max have experienced higher earnings growth rates than other workers in recent decades.

Distributional Effects of Accelerating and Extending the Increase in the Full Retirement Age
Policy Brief No. 2011-01 (released January 2011)
by Glenn R. Springstead

This policy brief compares two options set forth by the Social Security Advisory Board to increase the full retirement age (FRA), the age at which claimants may receive unreduced Social Security old-age benefits. One option would raise the FRA from the current target of 67 years to 68 years; the other would raise the FRA to 70 years. The brief examines the effects of both options on the level of benefits of Social Security beneficiaries aged 62 or older in 2070 using Modeling Income in the Near Term (MINT) projections, and on Trust Fund solvency using estimates from the Social Security Administration's Office of the Chief Actuary. The brief finds that both options would reduce benefits, improve solvency, and slightly increase the poverty rate. Within each option, effects on benefits are relatively uniform across beneficiary characteristics, although some surviving spouse and disabled beneficiaries would be shielded from benefit reductions.

Distributional Effects of Price Indexing Social Security Benefits
Policy Brief No. 2010-03 (released November 2010)
by Mark A. Sarney

This policy brief compares five options (four progressive price indexing and one full price indexing option) set forth by the Social Security Advisory Board to index initial benefits to price growth. It examines the distribution of benefits of Social Security beneficiaries aged 62 or older in 2030, 2050, and 2070 using Modeling Income in the Near Term (MINT) model projections. The brief finds that the full price indexing option Shield 0% would more than achieve long-term solvency by reducing benefits by about 35 percent in 2070 and would increase the aged poverty rate compared with scheduled levels. The four progressive price indexing options (Shields 30%, 40%, 50%, 60%) would produce smaller benefit reductions by exempting varying proportions of lower earners from price indexing. Those options would not increase poverty above scheduled levels, but would reduce benefits for some low earners because their auxiliary benefits come from the reduced benefits of a higher-earning spouse. The progressive price indexing options would make Social Security more progressive compared with scheduled and payable benefits, both when looking at household benefit reductions by household income in a given year and when examining the distribution of lifetime taxes and benefits.

Distributional Effects of Reducing the Social Security Benefit Formula
Policy Brief No. 2010-02 (released November 2010)
by Glenn R. Springstead

A person's Social Security benefit, or primary insurance amount (PIA), is 90 percent of the lowest portion of lifetime earnings, plus 32 percent of the middle portion of lifetime earnings, plus 15 percent of the highest portion of lifetime earnings. This policy brief analyzes the distributional effects of three options (the three-point, five-point and upper) discussed by the Social Security Advisory Board to reduce the PIA. The first option would reduce the PIA by 3 percentage points; the second would reduce it by 5 percentage points; and the third would reduce the 32 and 15 percentages of the PIA to 21 and 10 percent, respectively. The third option would exempt about one quarter of the lowest earning beneficiaries, while reducing benefits by a median average of 19 percent in 2070. None would eliminate Social Security's long-term fiscal imbalance, although the third option would eliminate more (76 percent) of the deficit than the three-point (18 percent) and five-point (31 percent) options.

The Future Financial Status of the Social Security Program
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 70 No. 3 (released August 2010)
by Stephen C. Goss

This article describes four concepts—solvency, sustainability, shortfalls, and solutions—as they apply to the financial status of the Social Security program as well as how Social Security financing fits in the general federal budget. The little-understood basis for future projected shortfalls is explained and detailed in relation to the possible solutions.

Distributional Effects of Raising the Social Security Payroll Tax
Policy Brief No. 2010-01 (released April 2010)
by Dave Shoffner

This policy brief analyzes the lifetime tax effects of two options for addressing the Social Security system's long-range solvency by raising the Social Security payroll tax rate. The first, an immediate increase, would have raised the payroll tax rate from its current 12.4 percent to 14.4 percent in 2006; the second, a phased increase, would raise the payroll tax rate to 14.5 percent in 2020, and then to 16.6 percent in 2050. The brief also analyzes a comparative scenario in which the current tax rate is maintained through 2041 and then raised each year as needed to pay scheduled benefits. The lifetime taxes of people born 1936–2015 are analyzed using Modeling Income in the Near Term (MINT) projections. Results show that the longer a tax rate increase is delayed, the fewer workers are affected, but also the higher the increase in lifetime taxes for later generations. The results also show that both options reduce the cross-cohort variability in the ratio of benefits received to taxes paid.

The Research Contributions of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 69 No. 4 (released December 2009)
by Steven A. Sass

This article reviews the research contributions of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College over its 10-year history and their implications for Social Security and retirement income policy in three major areas: (1) Social Security's long-term financing shortfall, (2) the adequacy of retirement incomes, and (3) labor force participation at older ages as a means to improve retirement income security. The center has received substantial funding support from the Social Security Administration (SSA) in each area and has also successfully leveraged SSA's investment by attracting funding from other sources.

Distributional Effects of Raising the Social Security Taxable Maximum
Policy Brief No. 2009-01 (released July 2009)
by Kevin Whitman

As of 2009, Social Security's Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance program limits the amount of annual earnings subject to taxation at $106,800, and this value generally increases annually based on changes in the national average wage index. This brief uses Modeling Income in the Near Term (MINT) projections to compare the distributional effects of four options for raising the maximum taxable earnings amount beyond its scheduled levels. Two of the options would raise this value so that it covers 90 percent of all covered earnings and two would remove the maximum completely. Within each set of options, the proposals are differentiated by whether the new taxable amounts are used in computing benefits. Most workers would not be affected by these proposals, but some higher earners would experience a substantial increase in taxes. Correspondingly, benefit increases are largely isolated to higher earners, although the return in benefits for taxes paid would also decline. Because the proposals are targeted toward high earners, Social Security's progressivity would increase.

The Effects of Wage Indexing on Social Security Disability Benefits
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 68 No. 3 (released December 2008)
by L. Scott Muller

Researchers David Autor and Mark Duggan have hypothesized that the Social Security benefit formula using the average wage index, coupled with a widening distribution of income, has created an implicit rise in replacement rates for low-earner disability beneficiaries. This research attempts to confirm and quantify the replacement rate creep identified by Autor and Duggan using actual earnings histories of disability-insured workers over the period 1979–2004. The research finds that disability replacement rates are rising for many insured workers, although the effect may be somewhat smaller than that suggested by Autor and Duggan.

Estimating the First Instance of Substantive-Covered Earnings in the Labor Market
Research and Statistics Note No. 2008-04 (released September 2008)
by Michael Compson
Research on Immigrant Earnings
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 68 No. 1 (released August 2008)
by Harriet Orcutt Duleep and Daniel J. Dowhan

As the first in a trio of articles devoted to incorporating immigration into policy models, this article traces the history of research on immigrant earnings. It focuses on how earnings trajectories of immigrants differ from those of U.S. natives, vary across immigrant groups, and have changed over time. The highlighted findings underscore key lessons for modeling immigrant earnings and pave the way for representing the earnings trajectories of immigrants in policy models.

Adding Immigrants to Microsimulation Models
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 68 No. 1 (released August 2008)
by Harriet Orcutt Duleep and Daniel J. Dowhan

Given immigration's recent resurgence as an important demographic fact in the U.S. economy, U.S. policy modelers are just beginning to grapple with how best to integrate immigrants into policy models. Building on the research reviewed in the first article of this series, this article puts forth a conceptual basis for incorporating immigration into a key type of policy model—microsimulation—with a focus on the projection of immigrant earnings.

Incorporating Immigrant Flows into Microsimulation Models
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 68 No. 1 (released August 2008)
by Harriet Orcutt Duleep and Daniel J. Dowhan

Complementing the second paper's focus on forecasting immigrant earnings and emigration in a "closed system" for a given population, the last article of the trilogy explores how to project immigrant earnings for an "open system"—a system that includes future immigrants. A simple method to project future immigrants and their earnings is presented.

Social Security Cost-of-Living Adjustments and the Consumer Price Index
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 67 No. 3 (released April 2008)
by Clark Burdick and T. Lynn Fisher

Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI, Social Security) benefits are indexed for inflation to protect beneficiaries from the loss of purchasing power implied by inflation. In the absence of such indexing, the purchasing power of Social Security benefits would be eroded as rising prices raised the cost of living. Recently, the Consumer Price Index used to calculate the Cost-of-Living-Adjustment (COLA) for OASDI benefits has come under increased scrutiny. Some argue that the current index does not accurately reflect the inflation experienced by seniors and that COLAs should be larger. Others argue that the measure of inflation underlying the COLA has technical limitations that cause it to overestimate changes in the cost of living and that COLAs should be smaller. This article discusses some of the issues involved with indexing Social Security benefits for inflation and examines the ramifications of potential changes to COLA calculations.

The Distributional Consequences of a "No-Action" Scenario: Updated Results
Policy Brief No. 2005-01 (released July 2005)

Under the Social Security program, benefits are paid to retired workers, survivors, and disabled persons out of two trust funds—the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and the Disability Insurance (OASDI) Trust Funds. In their 2005 report, the Social Security Trustees projected that the combined OASDI trust funds would be exhausted in 2041. Because the trust funds are used to pay benefits, retirement benefits would have to be reduced somewhat in 2041 and more drastically in 2042.

If no action were taken to strengthen Social Security, the benefit reductions necessitated by the exhaustion of the trust funds would double the poverty rate of Social Security beneficiaries aged 64–78 in 2042, from 1.5 percent to 3.3 percent. However, this increased poverty rate would still be lower than the current poverty rate for beneficiaries aged 62–76, which is 4.6 percent. In addition, the trust funds' exhaustion could lead to lower returns on payroll taxes using traditional "money's-worth" measures.

Stochastic Models of the Social Security Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 65 No. 1 (released May 2004)
by Clark Burdick and Joyce Manchester

The 2003 Trustees Report on the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance Trust Funds contains, for the first time, results from a stochastic model of the combined trust funds of the OASDI programs. To help interpret the new stochastic results and place them in context, the Social Security Administration's Office of Policy arranged for three external modeling groups to produce alternative stochastic results. This article demonstrates that the stochastic models deliver broadly consistent results even though they use significantly different approaches and assumptions. However, the results also demonstrate that the variation in trust fund outcomes differs as the approach and assumptions are varied.

The Distributional Consequences of a "No-Action" Scenario
Policy Brief No. 2004-01 (released February 2004)
by Andrew G. Biggs

The 2001 report of the Social Security trustees projected that the combined trust funds for the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance programs will be exhausted in 2038. This analysis explains the effects of insolvency on future retirement benefits and poverty rates of beneficiaries if no action is taken to strengthen Social Security.

Stochastic Models of the Social Security Trust Funds
Research and Statistics Note No. 2003-01 (released March 2003)
by Joyce Manchester and Clark Burdick
Social Security and the Emigration of Immigrants
ORES Working Paper No. 60 (released March 1994)
by Harriet Orcutt Duleep

Each year the Social Security Administration forecasts the financial status of the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) programs by projecting trends in key variables such as the labor force participation and earnings of the U.S. population. In the difficult task of projecting the long-term financial status of Social Security, assumptions are made concerning the relationship of immigrants to Social Security. An important aspect of that relationship is the emigration of immigrants.

This paper describes the general assumptions related to the level and timing of emigration that underlie projections of Social Security's financial status and examines how closely these assumptions fit research findings based on a variety of data sources. Previous trends in emigration and factors that may affect current and future levels of emigration are described. The paper also presents theoretical expectations and empirical evidence concerning the timing of emigration.

Actuarial Status of the Social Security and Medicare Programs
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 57 No. 1 (released January 1994)
Actuarial Status of the Social Security and Medicare Programs
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 56 No. 1 (released January 1993)
Actuarial Status of the Social Security and Medicare Programs
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 55 No. 2 (released April 1992)
Actuarial Status of the OASI and DI Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 54 No. 6 (released June 1991)
Actuarial Status of the HI and SMI Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 54 No. 6 (released June 1991)
Social Security Technical Panel Report to the 1991 Advisory Council on Social Security: Appendices
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 53 No. 12 (released December 1990)
Social Security Technical Panel Report to the 1991 Advisory Council on Social Security
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 53 No. 11 (released November 1990)
Actuarial Status of the SMI Trust Fund
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 53 No. 6 (released June 1990)
Actuarial Status of the OASI and DI Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 53 No. 6 (released June 1990)
by Harry C. Ballantyne
Actuarial Status of the HI Trust Fund
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 53 No. 6 (released June 1990)
Actuarial Status of the OASI and DI Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 52 No. 6 (released June 1989)
Actuarial Aspects of Financing Old-Age and Survivors Insurance
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 51 No. 11 (released November 1988)
by Robert J. Myers
Commentary: Actuarial Research and Analysis
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 51 No. 11 (released November 1988)
by Robert J. Myers
Actuarial Status of the OASI and DI Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 51 No. 6 (released June 1988)
by Harry C. Ballantyne
Actuarial Status of the HI and SMI Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 51 No. 6 (released June 1988)
Social Security Area Population Projections: 1987
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 51 No. 2 (released February 1988)
by Alice H. Wade
Economic Policy, Intergenerational Equity, and the Social Security Trust Fund Buildup
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 50 No. 10 (released October 1987)
by John C. Hambor
Actuarial Status of the HI and SMI Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 50 No. 6 (released June 1987)
by Barbara Klees and Carter Warfield
Actuarial Status of the OASI and DI Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 50 No. 6 (released June 1987)
by Harry C. Ballantyne
Actuarial Status of the HI and SMI Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 49 No. 7 (released July 1986)
by Barbara Klees and Carter Warfield
Actuarial Status of the OASI and DI Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 49 No. 7 (released July 1986)
by Harry C. Ballantyne
Actuarial Status of the HI and SMI Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 48 No. 6 (released June 1985)
by Sol Mussey
Actuarial Status of the OASI and DI Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 48 No. 6 (released June 1985)
by Harry C. Ballantyne
Actuarial Status of the HI and SMI Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 47 No. 5 (released May 1984)
by Sol Mussey
Actuarial Status of the OASI and DI Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 47 No. 5 (released May 1984)
by Harry C. Ballantyne
Actuarial Status of the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 46 No. 10 (released October 1983)
by Harry C. Ballantyne
Actuarial Status of the Hospital Insurance and Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 46 No. 10 (released October 1983)
by Roland E. King
Interfund Borrowing Under the Social Security Act
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 46 No. 9 (released September 1983)
by Bruce D. Schobel
Actuarial Status of the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 45 No. 6 (released June 1982)
by Harry C. Ballantyne
Gifts to the Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 45 No. 2 (released February 1982)
Investment Policies and Procedures of the Social Security Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 45 No. 1 (released January 1982)
by Robert J. Myers
Economic Forecasting: Effect of Errors on OASDI Fund Ratios
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 45 No. 1 (released January 1982)
by Dwight K. Bartlett III and Joseph A. Applebaum
OASDI: Fiscal Basis and Long-Range Cost Projections
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 40 No. 1 (released January 1977)
by A. Haeworth Robertson
Questions on Social Security and the Future Work Force
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 39 No. 8 (released August 1976)
by Virginia P. Reno
Trust Fund Operations, 1961
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 25 No. 5 (released May 1962)
by Sophie R. Dales
Trust Fund Operations, 1960
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 24 No. 5 (released May 1961)
by Sophie R. Dales
Special Issue Investments of OASDI Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 24 No. 3 (released March 1961)
by Robert J. Myers
Seventh Actuarial Valuation of the Railroad Retirement System
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 22 No. 5 (released May 1959)
by Abraham M. Niessen
Trust Fund Operations, 1958
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 22 No. 4 (released April 1959)
by Sophie R. Dales
Management of Selected Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 22 No. 2 (released February 1959)
by Glenn D. Morrow and Sophie R. Dales
Trustees Report on Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 21 No. 8 (released August 1958)
Trust Fund Operations, 1957
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 21 No. 4 (released April 1958)
by Sophie R. Dales
Disability Insurance Trust Fund, January–June 1957
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 20 No. 9 (released September 1957)
by Sophie R. Dales
Trustees Report on Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance Trust Funds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 20 No. 6 (released June 1957)
Trust Fund Operations, 1956
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 20 No. 4 (released April 1957)
by Sophie R. Dales
Trustees Sixteenth Report on OASI Trust Fund
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 19 No. 7 (released July 1956)
Trust Fund Operations, 1955
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 19 No. 4 (released April 1956)
Fifteenth Trustees Report on OASI Trust Fund
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 18 No. 5 (released May 1955)
Trust Fund Operations, 1954
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 18 No. 4 (released April 1955)
Trust Fund Operations, 1953
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 17 No. 4 (released April 1954)
Actuarial Aspects of Financing Old-Age and Survivors Insurance
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 16 No. 6 (released June 1953)
by Robert J. Myers
Trust Fund Operations, 1951
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 15 No. 4 (released April 1952)
Trust Fund Operations, 1950
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 14 No. 4 (released April 1951)
Trust Fund Operations in 1949
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 13 No. 4 (released April 1950)
Trustees' Report on Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 12 No. 4 (released April 1949)
Trust Fund Operations in 1948
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 12 No. 3 (released March 1949)
Comparison of Actual Experience With Estimates in the Trustees' Reports
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 11, No. 5 (released May 1948)
by Robert J. Myers
Economic Factors in Long-Range Cost Estimates of Old-Age and Survivors Insurance
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 7, No. 4 (released April 1944)
by Michael T. Wermel
Actuarial Factors in Old-Age and Survivors Insurance
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 7, No. 4 (released April 1944)