"The president has proposed a commonsense solution to improve the solvency of this fund in the short run so that Americans who rely on it will continue to receive the benefits they need," Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said. "It is vital that Congress move forward to maintain the integrity of this critical program sooner rather than later."
Medicare turns 50 at the end of the month and Social Security turns 80 two weeks later. Together, the programs accounted for more than 40 percent of federal spending last year. Both are feeling the strains of retiring baby boomers.
The trustees said the retirement fund has enough money to pay full benefits until 2035, a year later than last year's report. At that point, Social Security will collect enough in payroll taxes to pay about 75 percent of benefits.
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If the retirement and disability funds were combined, they would have enough money to pay full benefits until 2034, the trustees said.
Advocates for seniors say that gives Congress plenty of time to address Social Security's long-term problems, without cutting benefits. But some in Congress note that the longer lawmakers wait, the harder it gets to address the shortfall without making significant changes.
"Today's report shows that we must seek meaningful, in some instances even urgent, changes to ensure the program is on stable ground for future generations," said Jo Ann Jenkins, the chief executive officer of AARP. "An honest, open, national discussion about the value of Social Security and its importance to millions of retired workers, spouses, children, veterans, and persons with disabilities remains the clear path forward for this crucial component of economic security."
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