By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Martin Crutsinger
Social Security and Medicare, the government’s two biggest benefit programs, remain under intense financial pressure with the retirement of millions of baby boomers and a devastating pandemic putting increased pressures on the two programs’ finances.
A report from the programs’ trustees released Tuesday moved up by one year the date for the depletion of Social Security’s reserves, now projecting that Social Security will be unable to pay full benefits starting in 2034 instead of 2035.
Medicare is still expected to exhaust its reserves in 2026, the same date as estimated last year.
“The finances of both programs have been significantly affected by the pandemic and the recession of 2020,” the trustees said.
The report noted that employment, earnings, interest rates, and economic growth plummeted in the second quarter of 2020 after the pandemic hit the United States.
The report said that “given the unprecedented level of uncertainty” there was no consensus on what the long-lasting effects of the pandemic will be on the two benefit programs.
When the Social Security trust fund is depleted the government will be able to pay 78% of scheduled benefits, the report said.