Social Security: Benefit Terminations and the Trust Fund Running out

Link: https://marypatcampbell.substack.com/p/social-security-benefit-terminations

Graphic:

Excerpt:

Through the mechanism of the Trust Fund, Congress can put off having to act on the fundamental demographic problem that they can’t do much about. They hope they can run the Magic Money Machine to cover all the goodies they want, and in 2034, the Boomers will mostly be over age 80. Maybe another pandemic will deal with them….

(and nobody cares about us Gen Xers. In 2034, I won’t even be eligible for Social Security old age benefits.)

Nobody expects the Social Security benefits to be cut in 2034, or whatever other magic date when the Trust Fund runs out. The only thing the current Trust Fund mechanism requires is cuts… only if Congress doesn’t actually pass legislation to “fix” the issue.

They have been doing ad hoc “fixes” to Medicare and other parts for years so as to avoid massive cuts.

Author(s): Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 6 September 2021

Publication Site: STUMP at substack

Social Security Costs Expected to Exceed Total Income in 2021 as Covid-19 Takes Financial Toll

Link: https://www.wsj.com/articles/social-security-costs-expected-to-exceed-total-income-in-2021-as-covid-19-takes-financial-toll-11630436193

Excerpt:

Trustees for the Social Security trust fund in an annual report released Tuesday said the program is expected to pay benefits that exceed its income in 2021, the same as it anticipated last year at the outset of the pandemic.

While the pandemic had a significant impact on the program, the trustees said, they expect Social Security’s reserves to be depleted by 2034, only one year sooner than they estimated in their April 2020 report. Once the reserves are exhausted, benefits would be reduced automatically unless Congress steps in to shore up the program, which lawmakers have done previously.

The trustees now project elevated mortality rates related to the pandemic through 2023, and expect lower immigration and child-bearing this year and next, compared with their 2020 estimates. They also expect the pandemic has lowered worker productivity and thus economic output permanently.

Author(s): Kate Davidson

Publication Date: 31 August 2021

Publication Site: Wall Street Journal

Diverse Population Uses Nursing Homes Less

Excerpt:

Eight states have seen the biggest drops in nursing home use: Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Many of these states have experienced fast growth in their minority populations or have more generous state allocations of Medicaid funds for long-term care services delivered in the home.

Growing diversity is actually the second-biggest reason for lower nursing home residence, accounting for one-fifth of the decline, according to the study, which was funded by the U.S. Social Security Administration and is based on U.S. Census data.

Publication Date: 25 February 2021

Publication Site: Squared Away Blog

Annual Statistical Supplement, Social Security

Link: https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/supplement/2020/index.html

Preface:

The Supplement is a major resource for data on programs administered by the Social Security Administration—the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance program, known collectively as Social Security, and the Supplemental Security Income program. The Supplement also includes program summaries and legislative histories that help users of the data understand these programs. Please note that additional disability tables and statistics can be found in the SSI Annual Statistical Report and the Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program.

The Supplement has been published annually since 1940. Decisions affecting the future of Social Security are facilitated by the availability of relevant data over a long period. The data provide a base for research, policy analysis, and proposals for changing the programs. In addition to meeting the Social Security Administration’s information needs, the Supplement strengthens the agency’s ability to respond to requests for program data from congressional committees, government agencies at all levels, and the research community.

The Supplement is prepared by Social Security Administration staff from various components throughout the agency. I would like to express my thanks to them for their contributions.

Katherine N. Bent
Acting Associate Commissioner for Research, Evaluation, and Statistics
February 2021

Date Accessed: 24 February 2021

Publication Site: Social Security Administration

Mortality with Meep: Digging into CDC report on mortality in the first half of 2020

Link: https://marypatcampbell.substack.com/p/mortality-with-meep-digging-into

Graphic:

Excerpt:

It is better to provide death rates by age ranges for year-to-year comparisons.

When you calculate a period life expectancy, you’re incorporating the mortality rates for all the ages above the current age, and it doesn’t really capture how specific age ranges were affected. I can use these life expectancies to make estimates about the death rates, but I’m not going to – I’m trying to keep the calculations simple so that other people can follow my spreadsheets and check what I’m doing.

With age-adjusted death rates, you can capture overall mortality levels, but again, you don’t know which age ranges were affected the most.

I believe period life expectancy is used for these types of reports because people are more comfortable thinking about number of years to live, or age at death, than they are thinking about rates.

Author(s): Mary Pat Campbell

Publication Date: 22 February 2021

Publication Site: STUMP

Vesting Requirements and Key Benefit-Formula Features of State and Local Government Pension Plans

Link: https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/ssb/v81n1/v81n1p1.html

Excerpt:

This article provides a quantitative analysis of some key features of state and local pensions, including vesting requirements, the FAS period, and the benefit formula multiplier. This analysis focuses on public pensions in states that account for large numbers of noncovered public-sector workers. Among its unique contributions is the weighting of the summary statistics by population—in this instance, by the active membership in each benefit tier. This weighting mechanism is of special importance for occupation groups such as teachers, whose number of benefit tiers are underrepresented relative to active members, and public safety workers, whose tiers are overrepresented relative to active membership.

The findings in this article provide supporting evidence of a benefit retrenchment across state and local pensions, at least in states where noncovered employment is most common. Benefit tiers that are not open to new hires tend to have shorter vesting periods, shorter FAS periods (resulting in higher FASs), and higher benefit multipliers. As states have sought to reduce pension expenses, they have tightened eligibility requirements by increasing vesting periods, and have lowered benefits by increasing the FAS period and reducing the benefit formula’s multiplier.

This is not particularly surprising, given the recent economic conditions and plan funding levels that have led to pension reforms. However, the analysis shows that those changes have not affected all types of state and local workers equally. Changes in the FAS period, for example, affect public safety workers and local-level general government employees more than they affect teachers.

Author: Glenn R. Springstead

Publication Date: February 2021

Publication Site: Social Security Administration, Social Security Bulletin