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Social Security Isn't a Basket Case

Social Security Isn't a Basket Case
Photograph by Ty Wright/Bloomberg

Social Security is O.K.. Yes, “O.K.” is hardly an exuberant term. Nevertheless, considering the apocalyptic language hurled at the social insurance program in recent years—Ponzi scheme, monstrous lie, imminent bankruptcy—it’s a reassuring judgment.

The 2013 Social Security and Medicare Trustees Report, released on May 31, shows the system’s finances essentially unchanged from last year’s projections. Social Security’s retirement and disability programs have sufficient resources to cover promised benefits for the next 20 years, with the expected date of trust fund exhaustion in 2033. There will still be enough revenue after that date to pay about 75 percent of scheduled benefits. That’s hardly a desirable outcome, of course, but it reinforces the critical take-away that Social Security isn’t a basket case. (The Trustees report has Medicare improving its financial health and able to pay its bills through 2026, two years longer than last year’s guesstimate.)