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Social Security issues may appear sooner rather than later

With an election year upon us, many in Ohio have certain topics in mind that they would like to see addressed by political candidates. One of these topics that people say candidates are avoiding is Social Security. Two separate funds make up the program Social Security: one for the elderly and another for the disabled.

Earlier estimates suggested that the funds would be used up by 2035, but a recent estimate has indicated that the funds will disappear by 2033. This means that Social Security Disability benefits will likely cost more of the nation's gross domestic product -- experts believe that by 2030, Social Security and Medicare will cost the nation an extra 3 percent.

Combined, the Social Security funds have $2.7 trillion allocated to them. That amount does not reflect the ability of the government to afford benefits. Instead, it is an amount that the U.S. Treasury has promised to afford in case of any cash shortfalls that occur before the trust funds dry up.

More estimates on Social Security suggest that the funds will have a cash deficit again this year -- the third year in a row. Experts believe that the deficit this year will be around $53 billion. Add in the 2 percent payroll tax cut and the deficit more than triples to $165 billion.

Experts are blaming a slow recovery and more straightforward accounting on the dimmer outlook for Social Security. If Congress does not act soon, the benefits program may experience some serious changes as soon as 2016. Previously, the Social Security Administration had stated that necessary changes would have to be made by 2018.

The White House has said that it will seek a broad fix to the Social Security system, hoping for a long-term solution, rather than reallocating funds to ensure the short-term success of the program. Whatever the fix, politicians need to ensure they don't jeopardize the benefits of people who need them the most.

Source: Investors, "Disability Crisis Puts Social Security On 2012 Agenda," Jed Graham, April 23, 2012

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