2009 OASDI Trustees Report

Table of Contents Previous Next Tables Figures Index

Actuarial balance
The difference between the summarized income rate and the summarized cost rate over a given valuation period.
Actuarial deficit
A negative actuarial balance.
Administrative expenses
Expenses incurred by the Social Security Admin­istration and the Department of the Treasury in administering the OASDI program and the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code relating to the col­lection of contributions. Such administrative expenses are paid from the OASI and DI Trust Funds.
Advance tax transfers
Amounts representing the estimated total OASDI tax contributions for a given month. From May 1983 through November 1990, such amounts were credited to the OASI and DI Trust Funds at the beginning of each month. Reimbursements were made from the trust funds to the General Fund of the Treasury for the associated loss of interest. Advance tax transfers are no longer made unless needed in order to pay benefits.
Alternatives I, II, or III
See “Assumptions.”
Annual balance
The difference between the income rate and the cost rate in a given year.
Treasury notes and bonds, other securities guaranteed by the Federal Government, certain Federally sponsored agency obligations, and cash, held by the trust funds for investment purposes.
Values relating to future trends in certain key factors that affect the balance in the trust funds. Demographic assumptions include fertil­ity, mortality, net immigration, marriage, and divorce. Economic assump­tions include unemployment rates, average earnings, inflation, interest rates, and productivity. Program-specific assumptions include retirement patterns, and disability incidence and termination rates. Three sets of demographic, economic, and program-specific assumptions are presented in this report—
Alternative II is the intermediate set of assumptions, and represents the Trustees’ best estimates of likely future demographic, economic, and program-specific conditions.
Alternative I is characterized as a low-cost set—it assumes relatively rapid economic growth, low inflation, and favorable (from the stand­point of program financing) demographic and program-specific condi­tions.
Alternative III is characterized as a high-cost set—it assumes relatively slow economic growth, high inflation, and unfavorable (from the stand­point of program financing) demographic and program-specific condi­tions.
See tables V.A1, V.B1, and V.B2.
Automatic cost-of-living benefit increase
The annual increase in benefits, effective for December, reflecting the increase in the cost of living. The ben­efit increase equals the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) measured from the aver­age over July, August, and September of the preceding year to the average for the same 3 months in the current year. If the increase is less than one-tenth of 1 percent, when rounded, there is no automatic increase for the cur­rent year; the increase for the next year would reflect the net increase in the CPI over a 2-year period. See table V.C1.
Auxiliary benefits
Monthly benefits payable to a spouse or child of a retired or disabled worker, or to a survivor of a deceased worker.
Average indexed monthly earningsAIME
The amount of earnings used in determining the primary insurance amount (PIA) for most workers who attain age 62, become disabled, or die after 1978. A worker’s actual past earnings are adjusted by changes in the average wage index, in order to bring them up to their approximately equivalent value at the time of retirement or other eligibility for benefits.
Average wage indexAWI
The average amount of total wages for each year after 1950, including wages in noncovered employment and wages in covered employment in excess of the OASDI contribution and benefit base. (See Title 20, Chapter III, section 404.211(c) of the Code of Federal Regula­tions for a more precise definition.) These average wage amounts are used to index the taxable earnings of most workers first becoming eligible for bene­fits in 1979 or later, and for automatic adjustments in the contribution and benefit base, bend points, earnings test exempt amounts, and other wage-indexed amounts. See table V.C1.
An administrative determination that an individual is entitled to receive a specified type of OASDI benefit. Awards can represent not only new entrants to the benefit rolls but also persons already on the rolls who become entitled to a different type of benefit. Awards usually result in the immediate payment of benefits, although payments may be deferred or with­held depending on the individual’s particular circumstances.
Baby boom
The period from the end of World War II through the mid-1960s marked by unusually high birth rates.
Bend points
The dollar amounts defining the AIME or PIA brackets in the benefit formulas. For the bend points for years 1979 and later, see table V.C2.
A person who has been awarded benefits on the basis of his or her own or another’s earnings record. The benefits may be either in current-payment status or withheld.
Benefit award
See “Award.”
Benefit payments
The amounts disbursed for OASI and DI benefits by the Department of the Treasury in specified periods.
Benefit termination
See “Termination.”
Best estimate assumptions
See “Assumptions.”
Board of Trustees
A Board established by the Social Security Act to over­see the financial operations of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund and the Federal Disability Insurance Trust Fund. The Board is composed of six members, four of whom serve automatically by virtue of their positions in the Federal Government: the Secretary of the Treasury, who is the Managing Trustee, the Secretary of Labor, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the Commissioner of Social Security. The other two members are appointed by the President to serve as public representatives.
Cash flow
The cash flow for the OASI and DI Trust Funds is defined gener­ally as actual or projected revenue and costs reflecting the levels of tax rates and benefits scheduled in the law. Net cash flow is the difference between tax revenue and cost on this basis.
Closed group unfunded obligation
This measure is computed like the open group unfunded obligation except that individuals under the age of 15 (or not yet born) are excluded. In other words, only persons who attain age 15 or older during the first year of the projection period are included in the calculations.
Constant dollars
Amounts adjusted by the CPI to the value of the dollar in a particular year.
Consumer Price IndexCPI
An official measure of inflation in consumer prices. In this report, all references to the CPI relate to the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). Historical val­ues for the CPI-W are published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Depart­ment of Labor.
Contribution and benefit base
Annual dollar amount above which earn­ings in employment covered under the OASDI program are neither taxable nor creditable for benefit-computation purposes. (Also referred to as maxi­mum contribution and benefit base, annual creditable maximum, taxable maximum, and maximum taxable.) See tables V.C1 and VI.A1. See “HI con­tribution base.”
The amount based on a percent of earnings, up to an annual maximum, that must be paid by—
States on the wages of State and local government employees covered under the Social Security Act through voluntary agreements under sec­tion 218 of the Act.
Generally, employers withhold contributions from wages, add an equal amount of contributions, and pay both on a current basis. Also referred to as taxes.
The cost for a year is defined to include scheduled benefit payments, administrative expenses, net transfers from the trust funds to the Railroad Retirement program under the financial-interchange provisions, and pay­ments for vocational rehabilitation services for disabled beneficiaries; it excludes transfers under the interfund borrowing provisions.
Cost-of-living adjustment
See “Automatic cost-of-living benefit increase.”
Cost rate
The cost rate for a year is the ratio of the cost of the program to the taxable payroll for the year.
Covered earnings
Earnings in employment covered by the OASDI pro­gram.
Covered employment
All employment for which earnings are creditable for Social Security purposes. Almost all employment is covered under the program. Some exceptions are:
State and local government employees whose employer has not elected to be covered under Social Security and who are participating in an employer-provided pension plan.
Covered worker
A person who has earnings creditable for Social Security purposes on the basis of services for wages in covered employment and/or on the basis of income from covered self-employment.
Creditable earnings.
Wage or self-employment earnings posted to a worker’s earnings record, upon which eligibility for and amount of benefits on that worker’s record is based. The maximum amount of creditable earn­ings for each worker in a calendar year is determined by the contribution and benefit base.
Current-cost financing
See “Pay-as-you-go financing.”
Current dollars
Amounts expressed in nominal dollars with no adjustment for inflationary changes in the value of the dollar over time.
Current-payment status
Status of a beneficiary to whom a benefit is being paid for a given month (with or without deductions, provided the deductions add to less than a full month’s benefit).
Deemed wage credit
See “Military service wage credits.”
Delayed retirement credits
Increases the benefit amount for certain indi­viduals who did not receive benefits for months after attainment of the nor­mal retirement age but before age 70. Delayed retirement credits are applicable for January benefits of the year following the year they are earned or for the month of attainment of age 70, whichever comes first. See table V.C3.
Demographic assumptions
See “Assumptions.”
Deterministic model
A model with specified assumptions for and relation­ships among variables. Under such a model, any specified set of assumptions determines a single outcome directly reflecting the specifications.
For Social Security purposes, the inability to engage in substan­tial gainful activity (see “Substantial gainful activity—SGA”) by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment that can be expected to result in death or to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months. Special rules apply for workers at ages 55 and over whose dis­ability is based on blindness.
The law generally requires that a person be disabled continuously for 5 months before he or she can qualify for a disabled-worker benefit.
Disability conversion ratio
For a given year, the ratio of the number of dis­ability conversions to the average number of disabled-worker beneficiaries during the year.
Disability conversion
Upon attainment of normal retirement age, a dis­abled-worker beneficiary is automatically converted to retired-worker status.
Disability incidence rate
The proportion of workers in a given year, insured for but not receiving disability benefits, who apply for and are awarded disability benefits.
Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Fund
See “Trust fund.”
Disability prevalence rate
The proportion of persons insured for disability benefits who are disabled-worker beneficiaries in current-payment status.
Disability termination rate
The proportion of disabled-worker beneficia­ries in a given year whose disability benefits terminate as a result of the indi­vidual’s recovery or death.
Disabled-worker benefit
A monthly benefit payable to a disabled worker under normal retirement age and insured for disability. Before November 1960, disability benefits were limited to disabled workers aged 50-64.
Actual expenditures (outgo) made or expected to be made under current law, including benefits paid or payable, administrative expenses, net transfers from the trust funds to the Railroad Retirement pro­gram under the financial-interchange provisions, and payments for voca­tional rehabilitation services for disabled beneficiaries; it excludes transfers under the interfund borrowing provisions.
Unless otherwise qualified, all wages from employment and net earnings from self-employment, whether or not taxable or covered.
Earnings test
The provision requiring the withholding of benefits if benefi­ciaries under normal retirement age have earnings in excess of certain exempt amounts. See table V.C1.
Economic assumptions
See “Assumptions.”
Effective interest rate
See “Interest rate.”
Excess wages
Wages in excess of the contribution and benefit base on which a worker initially pays taxes (usually as a result of working for more than one employer during a year). Employee taxes on excess wages are refundable to affected employees, while the employer taxes are not refund­able.
See “Disbursements.”
Federal Insurance Contributions ActFICA
Provision authorizing taxes on the wages of employed persons to provide for Retirement, Survivors, and Disability Insurance, and for Hospital Insurance. The tax is paid in equal amounts by workers and their employers.
Financial interchange
Provisions of the Railroad Retirement Act providing for transfers between the trust funds and the Social Security Equivalent Ben­efit Account of the Railroad Retirement program in order to place each trust fund in the same position it would have been in if railroad employment had always been covered under Social Security.
Fiscal year
The accounting year of the United States Government. Since 1976, a fiscal year is the 12-month period ending September 30. For exam­ple, fiscal year 2009 began October 1, 2008, and will end September 30, 2009.
Full advance funding
A financing scheme where taxes or contributions are established to match the full cost of future benefits as these costs are incurred through current service. Such financing methods also provide for amortiza­tion over a fixed period of any financial liability that is incurred at the begin­ning of the program (or subsequent modification) as a result of granting credit for past service.
General Fund of the Treasury
Funds held by the Treasury of the United States, other than receipts collected for a specific purpose (such as Social Security) and maintained in a separate account for that purpose.
General fund reimbursements
Transfers from the General Fund of the Treasury to the trust funds for specific purposes defined in the law, such as:
Interest on checks which are not negotiated 6 months after the month of issue. (For checks issued before October, 1989, the principal was returned to the trust funds as a general fund reimbursement; since that time, the principal amount is automatically returned to the issuing fund when the check is uncashed after a year.)
Administrative expenses incurred as a result of furnishing information on deferred vested benefits to pension plan participants, as required by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (Public Law 93-406).
Gross domestic productGDP
The total dollar value of all goods and ser­vices produced by labor and property located in the United States, regardless of who supplies the labor or property.
HI contribution base
Annual dollar amount above which earnings in employment covered under the HI program are not taxable. (Also referred to as maximum contribution base, taxable maximum, and maximum taxable.) Beginning in 1994, the HI contribution base was eliminated.
High-cost assumptions
See “Assumptions.”
Hospital Insurance (HI) Trust Fund
See “Trust fund.”
See “Legal immigration” and “Other immigration.”
Income for a given year is the sum of tax revenues on a liability basis (payroll-tax contributions and income from the taxation of scheduled benefits) and interest credited to the trust funds.
Income rate
Ratio of income from tax revenues on a liability basis (payroll-tax contributions and income from the taxation of scheduled benefits) to the OASDI taxable payroll for the year.
An increase in the volume of money and credit relative to avail­able goods, resulting in an increase in the general price level.
Insured status
The state or condition of having sufficient quarters of cover­age to meet the eligibility requirements for retired-worker or disabled-worker benefits, or to permit the worker’s spouse and children or survivors to estab­lish eligibility for benefits in the event of his or her disability, retirement, or death. See “Quarters of coverage.”
A payment in exchange for the use of money during a specified period.
Interest rate
Interest rates on new public-debt obligations issuable to Fed­eral trust funds (see “Special public-debt obligation”) are determined monthly. Such rates are set equal to the average market yield on all outstand­ing marketable U.S. securities not due or callable until after 4 years from the date the rate is determined. See table V.B2 for historical and assumed future interest rates on new special-issue securities. The effective interest rate for a trust fund is the ratio of the interest earned by the fund over a given period of time to the average level of assets held by the fund during the period. The effective rate of interest thus represents a measure of the overall average interest earnings on the fund’s portfolio of assets.
Interfund borrowing
The borrowing of assets by a trust fund (OASI, DI, or HI) from another of the trust funds when the first fund is in danger of exhaustion. Interfund borrowing was permitted by the Social Security Act only during 1982 through 1987; all amounts borrowed were to be repaid prior to the end of 1989. The only exercise of this authority occurred in 1982, when the OASI Trust Fund borrowed assets from the DI and HI Trust Funds. The final repayment of borrowed amounts occurred in 1986.
Intermediate assumptions
See “Assumptions.”
Legal emigration
Legal emigration for a given year consists of those legal permanent residents and native-born citizens who leave the Social Security area during the year.
Legal immigration
Consistent with the definition used by the Department of Homeland Security, legal immigration for a given year consists of foreign-born individuals who are granted legal permanent residence status during the year.
Life expectancy
Average remaining number of years expected prior to death. Period life expectancy is calculated for a given year using the actual or expected death rates at each age for that year. Cohort life expectancy, some­times referred to as generational life expectancy, is calculated for individuals at a specific age in a given year using actual or expected death rates from the years in which the individuals would actually reach each succeeding age if he or she survives.
Long range
The next 75 years. Long-range actuarial estimates are made for this period because it is approximately the maximum remaining lifetime of current Social Security participants.
Low-cost assumptions. See “Assumptions.”
Lump-sum death benefit
A lump sum, generally $255, payable on the death of a fully or currently insured worker. The lump sum is payable to the surviving spouse of the worker, under most circumstances, or to the worker’s children.
Maximum family benefit
The maximum monthly amount that can be paid on a worker’s earnings record. Whenever the total of the individual monthly benefits payable to all the beneficiaries entitled on one earnings record exceeds the maximum, each dependent’s or survivor’s benefit is proportion­ately reduced to bring the total within the maximum. Benefits payable to divorced spouses or surviving divorced spouses are not reduced under the family maximum provision.
A nationwide, Federally administered health insurance program authorized in 1965 to cover the cost of hospitalization, medical care, and some related services for most people age 65 and over. In 1972, coverage was extended to people receiving Social Security Disability Insurance pay­ments for 2 years, and people with End-Stage Renal Disease. In 2006, pre­scription drug coverage was also added. Medicare consists of two separate but coordinated programs—Hospital Insurance (HI, Part A) and Supplemen­tary Medical Insurance (SMI). The SMI program is composed of three sepa­rate accounts—the Part B Account, the Part D Account, and the Transitional Assistance Account. Almost all persons who are aged 65 and over or dis­abled and who are entitled to HI are eligible to enroll in Part B and Part D on a voluntary basis by paying monthly premiums. Health insurance protection is available to Medicare beneficiaries without regard to income.
Military service wage credits
Credits recognizing that military personnel receive wages in kind (such as food and shelter) in addition to their basic pay and other cash payments. Noncontributory wage credits of $160 were pro­vided for each month of active military service from September 16, 1940, through December 31, 1956. For years after 1956, the basic pay of military personnel is covered under the Social Security program on a contributory basis. In addition to the contributory credits for basic pay, noncontributory wage credits of $300 were granted for each calendar quarter, from January 1957 through December 1977, in which a person received pay for military service. Noncontributory wage credits of $100 were granted for each $300 of military wages, up to a maximum credit of $1,200 per calendar year, from January 1978 through December 2001.
National average wage indexAWI
See “Average wage index—AWI.”
Normal retirement age
The age at which a person may first become enti­tled to retirement benefits without reduction based on age. For persons reach­ing age 62 before 2000, the normal retirement age is 65. It will increase gradually to 67 for persons reaching that age in 2027 or later, beginning with an increase to 65 years and 2 months for persons reaching age 65 in 2003. See table V.C3.
Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) Trust Fund
See “Trust fund.”
Old-law base
Amount the contribution and benefit base would have been if the discretionary increases in the base under the 1977 amendments had not been enacted. The Social Security Amendments of 1972 provided for auto­matic annual indexing of the contribution and benefit base. The Social Secu­rity Amendments of 1977 provided ad hoc increases to the bases for 1979‑81, with subsequent bases updated in accordance with the normal indexing procedure. See table V.C2.
Open group unfunded obligation
This measure is computed as the excess of the present value of the projected cost of the program over a specified time period (for example the next 75 years or the infinite future) over the sum of (1) the value of trust fund assets at the beginning of the period and (2) the present value of the projected tax income of the program, assuming scheduled tax rates and benefit levels.
Other emigration
Other emigration for a given year consists of individuals from the other-immigrant population who leave the Social Security area dur­ing the year or who adjust status to become legal permanent residents during the year.
Other immigration
Other immigration for a given year consists of individ­uals who enter the Social Security area and stay 6 months or more but with­out legal permanent residence status, such as undocumented immigrants and temporary workers and students.
See “Disbursements.”
Par value
The value printed on the face of a bond. For both public and spe­cial issues held by the trust funds, par value is also the redemption value at maturity.
Partial advance funding
A financing scheme where taxes are scheduled to provide a substantial accumulation of trust fund assets, thereby generating additional interest income to the trust funds and reducing the need for payroll tax increases in periods when costs are relatively high. (Higher general taxes or additional borrowing may be required, however, to support the payment of such interest.) While substantial, the trust fund buildup under partial advance funding is much smaller than it would be with full advance funding.
Pay-as-you-go financing
A financing scheme where taxes are scheduled to produce just as much income as required to pay current benefits, with trust fund assets built up only to the extent needed to prevent exhaustion of the fund by random economic fluctuations.
Payment cycling
Beneficiaries on the rolls before May 1, 1997, are paid on the third of the month. Persons applying for OASDI benefits after April 1997, however, generally are paid on the second, third, or fourth Wednesday of the month following the month for which payment is due. The particular Wednesday payment date is based on the earner’s date of birth. For those born on the first through tenth, the benefit payment day is the second Wednesday of the month; for those born on the eleventh through the twenti­eth, the benefit payment day is the third Wednesday of the month; and for those born after the twentieth of the month, the payment day is the fourth Wednesday of the month.
Payroll taxes
A tax levied on the gross wages of workers. See tables VI.A1 and VI.F1.
Population in the Social Security area
See “Social Security area popula­tion.”
Present value
The equivalent value, at the present time, of a future stream of payments (either income or cost). The present value of a future stream of payments may be thought of as the lump-sum amount that, if invested today, together with interest earnings would be just enough to meet each of the pay­ments as they fell due. Present values are widely used in calculations involv­ing financial transactions over long periods of time to account for the time value of money (interest). For the purpose of present-value calculations for this report, values are discounted by the effective yield on trust fund assets.
Primary insurance amountPIA
The monthly amount payable to a retired worker who begins to receive benefits at normal retirement age or (generally) to a disabled worker. This amount, which is related to the worker’s average monthly wage or average indexed monthly earnings, is also the amount used as a base for computing all types of benefits payable on the basis of one individual’s earnings record.
Primary-insurance-amount formula
The mathematical formula relating the PIA to the AIME for workers who attain age 62, become disabled, or die after 1978. The PIA is equal to the sum of 90 percent of AIME up to the first bend point, plus 32 percent of AIME above the first bend point up to the sec­ond bend point, plus 15 percent of AIME in excess of the second bend point. Automatic benefit increases are applied beginning with the year of eligibility. See table V.C2 for historical and assumed future bend points and table V.C1 for historical and assumed future benefit increases.
Quarters of coverage
Basic unit of measurement for determining insured status. In 2009, a worker receives one quarter of coverage (up to a total of four) for each $1,090 of annual covered earnings. The amount of earnings required for a quarter of coverage is subject to annual automatic increases in proportion to increases in average wages. For amounts applicable for years after 1978, see table V.C2.
Railroad retirement
A Federal insurance program, somewhat similar to Social Security, designed for workers in the railroad industry. The provisions of the Railroad Retirement Act provide for a system of coordination and financial interchange between the Railroad Retirement program and the Social Security program.
Reallocation of tax rates
An increase in the tax rate payable to either the OASI or DI Trust Fund, with a corresponding reduction in the rate for the other fund, so that the total OASDI tax rate is not changed.
Real-wage differential
The difference between the percentage increases in (1) the average annual wage in covered employment and (2) the average annual Consumer Price Index. See table V.B1.
A period of adverse economic conditions; in particular, two or more successive calendar quarters of negative growth in gross domestic product.
Retired-worker benefit
A monthly benefit payable to a fully insured retired worker aged 62 or older or to a person entitled under the transitionally insured status provision in the law.
Retirement earnings test
See “Earnings test.”
Retirement eligibility age
The age (62) at which a fully insured individual first becomes eligible to receive retired-worker benefits.
Retirement test
See “Earnings test.”
Operation of a trade or business by an individual or by a partnership in which an individual is a member.
Self-Employment Contributions ActSECA
Provision authorizing Social Security taxes on the net earnings of most self-employed persons.
Short range
The next 10 years. Short-range actuarial estimates are prepared for this period because of the short-range test of financial adequacy. The Social Security Act requires estimates for 5 years; estimates are prepared for an additional 5 years to help clarify trends which are only starting to develop in the mandated first 5-year period.
Social Security Act
Provisions of the law governing most operations of the Social Security program. Original Social Security Act is Public Law 74-271, enacted August 14, 1935. With subsequent amendments, the Social Security Act consists of 20 titles, of which four have been repealed. The Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance program is authorized by title II of the Social Security Act.
Social Security area population
The population comprised of (i) residents of the 50 States and the District of Columbia (adjusted for net census under­count); (ii) civilian residents of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands; (iii) Federal civilian employees and persons in the U.S. Armed Forces abroad and their depen­dents; (iv) crew members of merchant vessels; and (v) all other U.S. citizens abroad.
A program is solvent at a point in time if it is able to pay sched­uled benefits when due with scheduled financing. For example, the OASDI program is considered solvent over any period for which the trust funds maintain a positive balance throughout the period.
Special public-debt obligation
Securities of the United States Government issued exclusively to the OASI, DI, HI, and SMI Trust Funds and other Fed­eral trust funds. Section 201(d) of the Social Security Act provides that the public-debt obligations issued for purchase by the OASI and DI Trust Funds shall have maturities fixed with due regard for the needs of the funds. The usual practice has been to spread the holdings of special issues, as of each June 30, so that the amounts maturing in each of the next 15 years are approximately equal. Special public-debt obligations are redeemable at par value at any time and carry interest rates determined by law (see “Interest rate”). See tables VI.A5 and VI.A6 for a listing of the obligations held by the OASI and DI Trust Funds, respectively.
Statutory blindness
Central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with the use of a correcting lens or tunnel vision of 20o or less.
Stochastic model
A model used for projecting a probability distribution of potential outcomes. Such models allow for random variation in one or more variables through time. The random variation is generally based on fluctua­tions observed in historical data for a selected period. Distributions of poten­tial outcomes are derived from a large number of simulations, each of which reflects random variation in the variable(s).
Substantial gainful activitySGA
The level of work activity used to establish disability. A finding of disability requires that a person be unable to engage in substantial gainful activity. A person who is earning more than a certain monthly amount (net of impairment-related work expenses) is ordi­narily considered to be engaging in SGA. The amount of monthly earnings considered as SGA depends on the nature of a person’s disability. The Social Security Act specifies a higher SGA amount for statutorily blind individuals; Federal regulations specify a lower SGA amount for non-blind individuals. Both SGA amounts increase with increases in the national average wage index.
Summarized balance
The difference between the summarized cost rate and the summarized income rate, expressed as a percentage of taxable payroll.
Summarized cost rate
The ratio of the present value of cost to the present value of the taxable payroll for the years in a given period, expressed as a percentage. This percentage can be used as a measure of the relative level of cost during the period in question. For purposes of evaluating the financial adequacy of the program, the summarized cost rate is adjusted to include the cost of reaching and maintaining a target trust fund level. Because a trust fund level of about 1 year’s cost is considered to be an adequate reserve for unforeseen contingencies, the targeted trust fund ratio used in determining summarized cost rates is 100 percent of annual cost. Accordingly, the adjusted summarized cost rate is equal to the ratio of (a) the sum of the present value of the cost during the period plus the present value of the tar­geted ending trust fund level, to (b) the present value of the taxable payroll during the projection period.
Summarized income rate
The ratio of the present value of scheduled tax income to the present value of taxable payroll for the years in a given period, expressed as a percentage. This percentage can be used as a measure of the relative level of income during the period in question. For purposes of evalu­ating the financial adequacy of the program, the summarized income rate is adjusted to include assets on hand at the beginning of the period. Accord­ingly, the adjusted summarized income rate equals the ratio of (a) the sum of the trust fund balance at the beginning of the period plus the present value of the total income from taxes during the period, to (b) the present value of the taxable payroll for the years in the period.
Supplemental Security IncomeSSI
A Federally administered program (often with State supplementation) of cash assistance for needy aged, blind, or disabled persons. SSI is funded through the General Fund of the Treasury and administered by the Social Security Administration.
Supplementary Medical Insurance (SMI) Trust Fund
See “Trust fund.”
Survivor benefit
Benefit payable to a survivor of a deceased worker.
Sustainable solvency
Sustainable solvency for the financing of the program is achieved when the program has positive trust fund ratios throughout the 75‑year projection period and these ratios are stable or rising at the end of the period.
Taxable earnings
Wages and/or self-employment income, in employment covered by the OASDI and/or HI programs, that is under the applicable annual maximum taxable limit. For 1994 and later, no maximum taxable limit applies to the HI program.
Taxable payroll
A weighted average of taxable wages and taxable self-employment income. When multiplied by the combined employee-employer tax rate, it yields the total amount of taxes incurred by employees, employ­ers, and the self-employed for work during the period.
Taxable self-employment income
The maximum amount of net earnings from self-employment by an earner which, when added to any taxable wages, does not exceed the contribution and benefit base. For HI beginning in 1994, all of net earnings from self-employment.
Taxable wages
See “Taxable earnings.”
Taxation of benefits
During 1984-93, up to one-half of an individual’s or a couple’s OASDI benefits was potentially subject to Federal income taxation under certain circumstances. The revenue derived from this provision was allocated to the OASI and DI Trust Funds on the basis of the income taxes paid on the benefits from each fund. Beginning in 1994, the maximum por­tion of OASDI benefits potentially subject to taxation was increased to 85 percent. The additional revenue derived from taxation of benefits in excess of one-half, up to 85 percent, is allocated to the HI Trust Fund.
See “Contributions.”
Cessation of payment of a specific type of benefit because the beneficiary is no longer entitled to receive it. For example, benefits might terminate as a result of the death of the beneficiary, the recovery of a dis­abled beneficiary, or the attainment of age 18 by a child beneficiary. In some cases, the individual may become immediately entitled to another type of benefit (such as the conversion of a disabled-worker beneficiary at normal retirement age to a retired-worker beneficiary).
Test of long-range close actuarial balance
Summarized income rates and cost rates are calculated for each of 66 valuation periods within the full 75-year long-range projection period. The first of these periods consists of the next 10 years. Each succeeding period becomes longer by 1 year, culminat­ing with the period consisting of the next 75 years. The long-range test is met if, for each of the 66 valuation periods, the actuarial balance is not less than zero or is negative by, at most, a specified percentage of the summarized cost rate for the same time period. The percentage allowed for a negative actuar­ial balance is 0 percent for the 10-year period, grading uniformly to 5 percent for the full 75-year period. The criterion for meeting the test is less stringent for the longer periods in recognition of the greater uncertainty associated with estimates for more distant years. The test is applied to OASI and DI separately, as well as combined, based on the intermediate set of assump­tions.
Test of short-range financial adequacy
The conditions required to meet this test are as follows:
If the trust fund ratio for a fund exceeds 100 percent at the beginning of the projection period, then it must be projected to remain at or above 100 percent throughout the 10-year projection period;
Alternatively, if the fund ratio is initially less than 100 percent, it must be projected to reach a level of at least 100 percent within 5 years (and not be depleted at any time during this period) and then remain at or above 100 percent throughout the remainder of the 10-year period. In addition, the fund’s estimated assets at the beginning of each month of the 10-year period must be sufficient to cover that month’s disburse­ments.
These conditions apply to each trust fund separately, as well as to the com­bined funds, and are evaluated based on the intermediate set of assumptions.
Total fertility rate
The average number of children that would be born to a woman in her lifetime if she were to experience the birth rates by age observed in, or assumed for, a specified year, and if she were to survive the entire childbearing period.
Trust fund
Separate accounts in the United States Treasury in which are deposited the taxes received under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act and the Self-Employment Contributions Act, as well as taxes resulting from coverage of State and local government employees; any sums received under the financial interchange with the railroad retirement account; voluntary hos­pital and medical insurance premiums; and transfers of Federal general reve­nues. Funds not withdrawn for current monthly or service benefits, the financial interchange, and administrative expenses are invested in interest-bearing Federal securities, as required by law; the interest earned is also deposited in the trust funds.
Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI). The trust fund used for paying monthly benefits to retired-worker (old-age) beneficiaries and their spouses and children and to survivors of deceased insured workers.
Disability Insurance (DI). The trust fund used for paying monthly ben­efits to disabled-worker beneficiaries and their spouses and children and for providing rehabilitation services to the disabled.
Hospital Insurance (HI). The trust fund used for paying part of the costs of inpatient hospital services and related care for aged and dis­abled individuals who meet the eligibility requirements. Also known as Medicare Part A.
Supplementary Medical Insurance (SMI). The Medicare trust fund composed of the Part B Account, the Part D Account, and the Transi­tional Assistance Account. The Part B Account pays for a portion of the costs of physicians’ services, outpatient hospital services, and other related medical and health services for voluntarily enrolled aged and disabled individuals. The Part D Account pays private plans to provide prescription drug coverage, beginning in 2006. The Transitional Assis­tance Account paid for transitional assistance under the prescription drug card program in 2004 and 2005.
Trust fund ratio
A measure of the adequacy of the trust fund level. Defined as the assets at the beginning of a year, including advance tax transfers (if any), expressed as a percentage of the cost during the year. The trust fund ratio represents the proportion of a year’s cost which could be paid with the funds available at the beginning of a year.
Unfunded obligation
See “Open group unfunded obligation” and “Closed group unfunded obligation”.
Unnegotiated check
A check which has not been cashed 6 months after the end of the month in which the check was issued. When a check has been out­standing for a year (i) the check is administratively cancelled by the Depart­ment of the Treasury and (ii) the issuing trust fund is reimbursed separately for the amount of the check and interest for the period the check was out­standing. The appropriate trust fund also receives an interest adjustment for the time the check was outstanding if it is cashed 6-12 months after the month of issue. If a check is presented for payment after it is administratively cancelled, a replacement check is issued.
Valuation period
A period of years which is considered as a unit for pur­poses of calculating the financial status of a trust fund.
Vocational rehabilitation
Services provided to disabled persons to help enable them to return to gainful employment. Reimbursement from the trust funds for the costs of such services is made only in those cases where the ser­vices contributed to the successful rehabilitation of the beneficiaries.
Year of exhaustion
The year in which a trust fund would become unable to pay benefits when due because the assets of the fund were exhausted.

Table of Contents Previous Next Tables Figures Index
SSA Home | Privacy Policy | Website Policies & Other Important Information | Site Map | Actuarial Publications May 12, 2009