This is how the Trust Fund presents its results. They don’t hide the deficit. They highlight it, as they should. I just wish that Huff Post and all the others that are blathering that "SS is off limits in 11’ as there is no problem” would just shut up and read what SSA is reporting.
I try to forecast these numbers. My estimate last summer was -35b. So I was off by $14b. I thought I had a negative view. I still missed the revenue number by 3%. A year ago a fellow who knows SS quite well suggested that I was “Chicken Little” with my forecast that SS would begin a period of perpetual deficits in10’. After all, this was not supposed to happen until 2016. But, of course, it has happened.
In 2010 there were 1,509,278 net new beneficiaries of SS checks. Ten years ago in 2000 the number was 462,740. The rate of increase is more than three times what it was just a decade ago. There are a bunch of folks who are, let’s say, leaving the system. Therefore the actual number of newbies getting checks is closer to 2.5mm a year. It comes to 60,000 a week. Business must be booming at SSA. Clearly this is a “growth” story. If you’re looking for work, file an application with the local SS office. They’re hiring. AdMin at SS was $6.5b last year. Look for that to go up by at least $500mm in 10’.
My current outlook for SS in 2011 is a picture not unlike that of 10’. I see some evidence that the revenue side (payroll tax) has stabilized. On the assumption that we see full year GDP growth around the current thinking of +3% I would expect revenue to grow by about $25b. I am much more confident on my outlook for expenses. These will come in at least 25b higher than 10’. Absent any significant prior year adjustments this would put the full year cash flow in deficit by $40-60 billion. The critical ratio of Pay Roll tax minus Benefits will be in deficit by $55-75 billion. Call it a disaster. And that's the "good"news.