On Monday, August 9, 2010, Lisa Mensah, Executive Director of Aspen IFS, moderated the “What’s the News in the 2010 Social Security Trustees Report?” panel in the Rayburn House Office Building. Organized by the National Academy of Social Insurance, the event featured panelists Stephen C. Goss, Chief Actuary of Social Security; Alice Wade, Deputy Chief Actuary of Social Security; and Virginia P. Reno, Vice President for Income Security Policy at the National Academy of Social Insurance.
Both Goss and Wade expounded on findings from the 2010 Social Security Trustees Report, which was released on August 5. Alice Wade explained the long-term actuarial deficit of Social Security decreased as compared to last year’s report. This decline was largely due to the effects of the recently enacted health care legislation – specifically, the taxable income increases expected resulting from the excise tax levied on employer provided health care programs. Wade continued by detailing how the short-term financial and actuarial status of the Social Security trust funds slightly worsened as compared to last year’s projections. This change, Goss explained, was predominantly due to more disabled workers claiming benefits and a slower-than-expected economic recovery.
Virginia Reno went on to discuss Social Security’s adequacy and solvency concerns. Reno began by illustrating Social Security costs are expected to remain largely constant over the long-run, demonstrating the expected costs of Social Security as a percent of GDP increases gradually up until 2030 — with a rise from about 4.8% of GDP today to around 6% of GDP — at which point costs hold steady to 2085 (the point at which projections end). Reno continued, proposing several adjustments that could address long-term solvency concerns. In particular, Reno called for a gradual rising of the taxable income cap back to its intended level of 90% of wages. Reno concluded by alluding to a NASI/Rockefeller poll: Economic Crisis Fuels Support for Social Security, which found that regardless of party affiliation, Americans agree that they would rather pay for Social Security than see benefits reduced.