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Social Security Benefits Program

How are Social Security Funds Being Managed Now?


If no significant changes are made to the Social Security program, the Trust Funds will be exhausted by 2042 and Social Security will be unable to meet all of its benefit obligations.

This affects all Americans.

“Whatever their individual circumstances, the vast majority of Americans will at some point in their lives be touched by Social Security,” says Jo Anne Barnhart, Commissioner of Social Security.

“For the millions of Americans currently receiving benefits, and for those who will become eligible in the future, we must make sure that the program is there for them.”

Report Highlights
In its 2004 annual report to Congress, the Board of Trustees of the Social Security Trust Funds announced:

  • The projected point at which tax revenues will fall below program costs comes in 2018.
  • The projected point at which the trust funds will be exhausted comes in 2042.
  • The projected actuarial deficit over the 75-year long-range period is 1.89 percent of taxable payroll.
  • Over the 75-year period, the trust funds require additional revenue equivalent to $3.7 trillion in today’s dollars to pay all scheduled benefits. This unfunded obligation grew $200 billion from 2003.
  • Income to the combined Old-Age and Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Trust Funds amounted to $632 billion in 2003.
  • During the year, an estimated 154 million people had earnings covered by Social Security and paid payroll taxes.
  • The Trust Funds paid benefits of more than $470 billion in calendar year 2003. There were 47 million beneficiaries at the end of the calendar year.
  • The cost of $4.6 billion to administer the program continues to be a very low 0.7 percent of total income.
  • Total expenditures from the combined OASDI Trust Funds amounted to $479 billion in 2003.
  • The assets of the combined OASDI Trust Funds increased by $153 billion in 2003 to a total of $1.5 trillion.
  • Interest earned on the invested assets of the combined Trust Funds was $85 billion in 2003. The combined Trust Fund assets earned interest at an effective annual rate of 6.0 percent.

The Board of Trustees for the Social Security Trust Funds includes six members. Four serve by virtue of their positions with the federal government: John W. Snow, Secretary of the Treasury and Managing Trustee; Jo Anne Barnhart, Commissioner of Social Security; Tommy G. Thompson, Secretary of Health and Human Services; and Elaine L. Chao, Secretary of Labor. The other two members, appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, are John L. Palmer and Thomas R. Saving.

Read the full 2004 Social Security Board of Trustees Report.

For more detailed information on the future of Social Security benefits, including frequently asked questions and real-life examples, see Future of Social Security Benefits: FAQ

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