2008 OASDI Trustees Report

Table of Contents Previous Next Tables Figures Index


The report’s major findings are summarized below.
In 2007
At the end of 2007, almost 50 million people were receiving benefits: 34 million retired workers and their dependents, 6 million survivors of deceased workers, and 9 million disabled workers and their dependents. Dur­ing the year an estimated 163 million people had earnings covered by Social Security and paid payroll taxes. Total benefits paid in 2007 were $585 bil­lion. Income was $785 billion, and assets held in special issue U.S. Treasury securities grew to $2.2 trillion.
Short-Range Results
The OASI Trust Fund and the combined OASI and DI Trust Funds are ade­quately financed over the next 10 years under the intermediate assumptions. The DI Trust Fund is expected to remain solvent over the next 10 years, but does not satisfy the short-range test of financial adequacy because assets are estimated to fall below 100 percent of annual expenditures before the end of 2017. The combined assets of the OASI and DI Trust Funds are projected to increase from $2,238 billion at the beginning of 2008, or 359 percent of annual expenditures, to $4,273 billion at the beginning of 2017, or 385 percent of annual expenditures in that year. Combined assets were pro­jected in last year’s report to rise to 362 percent of annual expenditures at the beginning of 2008, and 403 percent at the beginning of 2017.
Long-Range Results
Under the intermediate assumptions, OASDI cost will increase more rapidly than tax income between about 2010 and 2030 due to the retirement of the large baby-boom generation. After 2030, increases in life expectancy and the relatively low fertility rates experienced since the baby boom will continue to increase Social Security system costs relative to tax income, but more slowly. Annual cost will exceed tax income starting in 2017, at which time the annual gap will be covered with cash from redemptions of special obliga­tions of the Treasury that make up the trust fund assets until these assets are exhausted in 2041. Separately, the DI fund is projected to be exhausted in 2025 and the OASI fund in 2042. For the 75-year projection period, the actu­arial deficit is 1.70 percent of taxable payroll, 0.26 percentage point smaller than in last year’s report. The open group unfunded obligation for OASDI over the 75-year period is $4.3 trillion in present value, and is $0.4 trillion less than the measured level of a year ago. In the absence of any changes in assumptions, methods, and starting values, the unfunded obligation would have risen to almost $5.1 trillion due to the change in the valuation date.
The OASDI annual cost rate is projected to increase from 11.20 percent of taxable payroll in 2008, to 16.41 percent in 2030, and to 17.50 percent in 2082, or to a level that is 4.20 percent of taxable payroll more than the pro­jected income rate for 2082. In last year’s report the OASDI cost for 2081 was estimated at 18.55 percent, or 5.20 percent of payroll more than the annual income rate for that year. Expressed in relation to the projected gross domestic product (GDP), OASDI cost is estimated to rise from the current level of 4.3 percent of GDP, to 6.0 percent in 2030, and then to decline to 5.8 percent in 2082.
The improvement in the long-range actuarial status of the OASDI program indicated in this report is principally the result of changes in immigration methods and assumptions. These changes resulted in substantial reductions in the projected cost of the program, particularly in the latter half of the long-range projection period.
Annual cost will begin to exceed tax income in 2017 for the combined OASDI Trust Funds, which are projected to become exhausted and thus unable to pay scheduled benefits in full on a timely basis in 2041 under the long-range intermediate assumptions. For the trust funds to remain solvent throughout the 75-year projection period, the combined payroll tax rate could be increased during the period in a manner equivalent to an immediate and permanent increase of 1.70 percentage points, benefits could be reduced dur­ing the period in a manner equivalent to an immediate and permanent reduc­tion of 11.5 percent, general revenue transfers equivalent to $4.3 trillion in present value could be made during the period, or some combination of approaches could be adopted. Significantly larger changes would be required to maintain solvency beyond 75 years.
The projected trust fund deficits should be addressed in a timely way to allow for a gradual phasing in of the necessary changes and to provide advance notice to workers. Making adjustments sooner will allow them to be spread over more generations. Social Security plays a critical role in the lives of 50 million beneficiaries and 164 million covered workers and their fami­lies in 2008. With informed discussion, creative thinking, and timely legisla­tive action, present and future Congresses and Presidents can ensure that Social Security continues to protect future generations.

Table of Contents Previous Next Tables Figures Index
SSA Home | Privacy Policy | Website Policies & Other Important Information | Site Map | Actuarial Publications March 25, 2008