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Trustees Report- 1996



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.
Adjusted gross income--AGI.
Amount of income potentially subject to Federal income taxation, before consideration of exemptions and deductions.
Administrative expenses.
Expenses incurred by the Social Security Administration, Department of Health and Human Services, 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.
Advisory Council on Social Security.
Prior to the enactment of the Social Security Independence and Program Improvements Act of 1994 (Public Law 103-296) on August 15, 1994, the Social Security Act provided for the appointment of an Advisory Council every 4 years to study and review the financial status of the OASDI and Medicare programs. The most recent Advisory Council was appointed on June 9, 1994, and is currently reviewing the financial status of the OASDI program. Under the provisions of Public Law 103-296, this is the last Advisory Council to be appointed.
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 which affect the balance in the trust funds. Demographic assumptions include fertility, mortality, net immigration, marriage, divorce, retire ment patterns, disability incidence and termination rates, and changes in the labor force. Economic assumptions include unemployment, average earnings, inflation, interest rates, and productivity. Three sets of economic assumptions are presented in this report--
  • 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 conditions.
  • Alternative II is the `intermediate' set of assumptions, and represents the Trustees' `best estimates' of likely future economic and demographic conditions.
  • Alternative III, characterized as a `high cost' set, assumes slow economic growth, more rapid inflation, and financially disadvantageous demographic conditions.
See tables II.D1 and II.D2.
Automatic cost-of-living 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 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 increase in the cost of living over a 2-year period. See table II.E2. If the stabilizer provision applies, the increase may be less than the cost of living.
Auxiliary beneficiary.
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 earnings--AIME.
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 index.
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. These amounts are used to index the 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 tables II.E1, II.E2, and III.B1.
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 II.E3.
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 and confirmed by the Senate to serve as public representatives. Stephen G. Kellison and Marilyn Moon began serving 4-year terms on July 20, 1995. The Commissioner of Social Security became a member of the Board effective March 31, 1995, under Public Law 103-296, signed on August 15, 1994.
Book value.
A bond's value between its price at purchase and its value at maturity. Book value is calculated as par value plus unamortized premium, if purchased at a price above its par value, or less unamortized discount, if purchased below par.
See Automatic cost-of-living increase.
Constant dollars.
One or more financial amounts adjusted by the CPI to a constant year as a reference point.
Consumer Price Index--CPI.
Relative measure of inflation. In this report, all references to the CPI relate to the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). See table II.D1.
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 II.B1 and II.E2. See also, HI contribution base.
The amount based on a percent of earnings, up to an annual maximum, that must be paid by
  • employers and employees on wages from employment under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act,
  • the self-employed on net earnings from self-employment under the Self-Employment Contributions Act, and
  • States on the wages of State and local government employees covered under the Social Security Act through voluntary agree ments 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.'
Cost-of-living increase.
See Automatic cost-of-living increase.
Cost rate.
The cost rate for a year is the ratio of the cost (also called outgo, expenditures, or disbursements) of the program to the taxable payroll for the year. In this context, the outgo is defined to include benefit payments, special monthly payments to certain uninsured persons who have 3 or more quarters of coverage (and whose payments are therefore not reimbursable from the general fund of the Treasury), 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 special monthly payments to certain uninsured persons whose payments are reimbursable from the general fund of the Treasury (as described above), and transfers under the interfund borrowing provisions.
Covered earnings.
Earnings in employment covered by the OASDI program.
Covered employment.
All employment and self-employment credit able for Social Security purposes. Almost every kind of employment and self-employment is covered under the program. In a few employment situations, for example, religious orders under a vow of poverty, foreign affiliates of American employers, or State and local governments, coverage must be elected by the employer. However, effective July 1991, coverage is mandatory for State and local employees who are not participating in a public employee retirement system. In a few situations, for example, ministers or self-employed members of certain religious groups, workers can opt out of coverage.
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.
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 for 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). A benefit in current-payment status for a month is usually payable on the third day of the following month.
Deemed wage credit.
See Military service wage credits.
Demographic assumptions.
See Assumptions.
For Social Security purposes, the inability to engage in substantial gainful activity 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 age 55 or older 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 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 termination rate.
The proportion of disabled worker beneficiaries in a given year whose disability benefits terminate as a result of the individual's recovery, death, or attainment of normal retirement age.
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.
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 age 70 have earnings in excess of certain exempt amounts. See table II.E2.
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 refunded to affected employees, while the employer taxes are not refunded.
Federal Insurance Contributions Act--FICA.
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, each fiscal year has begun on October 1 of the prior calendar year and ended the following September 30. For example, fiscal year 1996 began October 1, 1995 and will end September 30, 1996.
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, including:
  • The costs associated with providing special payments made to uninsured persons who attained age 72 before 1968, and who had fewer than 3 quarters of coverage.
  • Payments corresponding to the employee-employer taxes on deemed wage credits for military personnel.
  • 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 Product.
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.
Gross National Product.
The total dollar value of all goods and services produced by labor and property supplied by United States residents, regardless of the location in which the production occurs.
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.
Income rate.
Ratio of income from tax revenues on a liability basis (payroll tax contributions and income from the taxation of 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 to mature for at least 4 years from the date of the determination. See table II.D1 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.
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 over age 65, people receiving Social Security Disability Insurance payments for 2 years, and people with End-Stage Renal Disease. Medicare consists of two separate but coordinated programs--Part A (Hospital Insurance, HI) and Part B (Supplementary Medical Insurance, SMI). All persons entitled to HI are eligible to enroll in the SMI program on a voluntary basis by paying a monthly premium. 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. In years after 1977, noncontributory wage credits of $100 are granted for each $300 of military wages, up to a maximum credit of $1,200 per calendar year.
National Average Wage Index.
See Average Wage Index.
Normal retirement age.
The age at which a person may first become entitled to unreduced retirement benefits. Currently age 65, but scheduled under present law to 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.
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 II.E3.
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 build-up 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.
Payroll taxes.
A tax levied on the gross wages of workers. See tables II.B1 and III.A1.
Population in the Social Security Area.
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, and American Samoa; (iii) Federal civilian employees and persons in the Armed Forces abroad and their dependents; (iv) crew members of merchant vessels; and (v) all other U.S. citizens abroad.
Present value.
The equivalent value, at the present time, of a future stream of payments (either income or expenditures). 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. At the time of the last payment, the invested fund would be exactly zero. For example, a home mortgage of $100,000 represents the present value at 8 percent interest of future monthly payments of $714.40 for the next 30 years. Present values are widely used in calculations involving financial transactions over long periods of time to account for the time value of money (interest) and the changing value of the dollar (inflation).
Primary insurance amount--PIA.
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 II.E3 for historical and assumed future bend points and table II.E2 for historical and assumed future benefit increases.
Quarters of coverage.
Basic unit of measurement for determining insured status. In 1996, a worker receives one quarter of coverage (up to a total of four) for each $640 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 earnings. For amounts applicable for years after 1978, see table II.E3.
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 II.D1.
A period of adverse economic conditions; in particular, two or more successive calendar quarters of negative growth in either Gross Domestic Product (GDP), or Gross National Product (GNP).
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. Retired-worker benefit data do not include special age-72 benefits.
Retirement age.
The age at which an individual establishes entitlement to retirement benefits. See also, Normal retirement age.
Retirement earnings test.
See Earnings test.
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 Act--SECA.
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.
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 in the past 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 also tables II.C2 and II.C4 for a listing of the obligations held by the OASI and DI Trust Funds, respectively.
Stabilizer provision.
Section 215(i)(1)(C) of the Act, which provides that if the combined assets of the OASI and DI Trust Funds, as a per centage of estimated annual expenditures, fall below a specified level, automatic benefit increases will be limited to the lower of the increases in wages or prices. The specified level is 20 percent for benefit increases in 1989 and later.
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 20 degrees or less.
Substantial gainful activity.
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. Under current regulations, a person who is not statutorily blind and is actually earning more than $500 a month (net of impairment-related work expenses) is ordinarily considered to be engaging in substantial gainful activity. A person who is statutorily blind (see Statutory blindess) is not considered to be engaging in substantial gainful activity, for the purpose of determining a condition of disability, unless the person's earnings are more than $960 a month in 1996 (net of impairment-related work expenses). This amount for the blind is subject to adjustment each year to reflect increases in average wage levels.
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 expenditures to the present value of the taxable payroll for the years in a given period. This ratio can be used as a measure of the relative level of expenditures 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 expenditures 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 expenditures. Accordingly, the adjusted summarized cost rate is equal to the ratio of (a) the sum of the present value of the outgo 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 tax income to the present value of taxable payroll for the years in a given period. This ratio 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 Income--SSI.
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.
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.
Net earnings from self-employment, generally above $400 and below the annual taxable and credit able maximum amount for a calendar or other taxable year, less any taxable wages in the same taxable year.
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 (alternative II) 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.
These conditions apply to each trust fund separately, as well as to the combined funds, and are evaluated based on the intermediate (alternative II) set of assumptions.
Total fertility rate.
The average number of children who 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, the Self-Employment Contributions Act, contributions 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.
  • Supplementary Medical Insurance (SMI). The trust fund used for paying part of the costs of physician's services, outpatient hospital services, and other related medical and health services for voluntarily enrolled aged and disabled individuals.
Trust fund ratio.
A measure of the adequacy of the trust fund level. Defined as the assets at the beginning of the year, including advance tax transfers (if any), expressed as a percentage of the outgo during the year. The trust fund ratio represents the proportion of a year's outgo which could be paid with the funds available at the beginning of the year.
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.

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