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Summary: Actuarial Status of the Social Security Trust Funds

(released April 2019)

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The annual report of the Social Security Board of Trustees presents the actuarial status of the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) and Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Funds. The table below outlines key measures of the actuarial status of the trust funds under the intermediate assumptions in the 2019 report.

The outlook for the combined OASDI trust funds is slightly improved from the 2018 report. The projected actuarial deficit for the combined trust funds over the next 75 years is 2.78 percent of taxable payroll, 0.06 percentage point lower than last year. As a share of the economy as measured by gross domestic product (GDP), the actuarial deficit over the next 75 years is projected to be 1.0 percent.

Depletion of the DI Trust Fund asset reserves is now projected for 2052, 20 years later than in last year's report. Disabled-worker applications have continued to decline since 2010 and disability incidence rates have been well below expectations. Based on sustained lower incidence rates, the Trustees have reduced the long-range disability incidence rate assumption for this report.

The OASI Trust Fund alone can pay full benefits until 2034, the same as projected last year, and the combined OASDI funds until 2035, one year later than in last year's report.

Comparison: Key Measures of Actuarial Status in the Social Security Trustees Reports
  2018 report 2019 report
75-year actuarial deficit  
As a percentage of taxable payroll 2.84% 2.78%
As a percentage of GDP 1.0% 1.0%
Income and outgo in year prior to report year (in billions)  
Income  
Total $997 $1,003
Social Security contributions a $874 $885
Income taxes on benefits $38 $35
Interest $85 $83
Outgo  
Total $952 $1,000
Benefit payments b $946 $994
Administration $6 $7
Net increase in assets $44 $3
Trust fund reserves  
Amount at beginning of report year (in billions) $2,892 $2,895
Amount at beginning of report year (as a percentage of report year outgo) 288% 273%
Year of peak trust fund reserves c 2018 2019
Amount at end of peak year (in billions) $2,890 $2,896
Year of trust fund depletion  
OASDI 2034 2035
OASI 2034 2034
DI 2032 2052
Share of OASDI outgo covered by scheduled revenue in—  
Year of trust fund depletion 79% 80%
End of 75-year reporting period 74% 75%
SOURCES: 2018 and 2019 Trustees Reports.
a. Includes a small amount of reimbursements from the General Fund of the Treasury due to the payroll contribution holiday.
b. Includes a small amount of payments to the Railroad Retirement Board.
c. Measured at end of year.

A 2018 annual surplus of $3.1 billion increased the asset reserves of the combined OASDI trust funds, bringing the total reserves to $2.89 trillion at the end of the year. This amount is equal to 273 percent of the estimated annual expenditures for 2019. The 2018 Trustees Report had projected a $1.7 billion decrease in combined trust fund reserves during 2018 under the intermediate assumptions. The $4.9 billion difference is mainly attributable to underestimating OASI program income (by $2.9 billion) and overestimating DI program cost (by $2.5 billion).

The Trustees now project that OASDI annual cost will exceed total income beginning in 2020—two years later than projected in last year's report—and continuing throughout the projection period. After the projected trust fund reserve depletion in 2035, continuing income would be sufficient to pay 80 percent of program cost, declining to 75 percent for 2093.

Beneficiaries and Benefit Payments

At the end of 2018, the Social Security program was providing monthly benefits to about 63 million people: 53 million from the OASI Trust Fund and 10 million from the DI Trust Fund. Total benefit payments for the year (excluding payments to the Railroad Retirement Board) were $989 billion: $845 billion from the OASI Trust Fund and $144 billion from the DI Trust Fund.

Sources of Trust Fund Income

During 2018, an estimated 176 million workers had earnings covered by Social Security and paid payroll taxes. Employees pay a 6.2 percent contribution from earnings up to a maximum of $132,900 in 2019, which their employers match. Self-employed workers pay both shares of the contribution, or 12.4 percent. More than 40 percent of current beneficiaries pay income taxes on part of their benefits, and those taxes go to the OASDI trust funds and Medicare's Hospital Insurance Trust Fund. The trust funds also earn interest ($83 billion in 2018 for the combined OASDI trust funds) on their accumulated reserves.