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Highlights of the 2021 Annual Report to Congress by the Social Security Board of Trustees

By Kurt Czarnowski

Kurt Czarnowski is the former Regional Communications Director for the Social Security Administration (SSA) in New England, a position he held from December of 1991 until his retirement at the end of 2010.  He began his career with SSA in 1976, and during his 34 years with the agency, he worked in several different management and staff positions in the Boston area.

On August 31, 2021, the Social Security Board of Trustees released its annual report to Congress, projecting the financial health of the Social Security Trust Funds over the next 75 years.  In the report, the Trustees announced:

·The combined assets of the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Trust Funds are projected to be depleted in 2034, which is one year earlier than in last year’s report.  However, the Trustees also project that, at that time, the system will have sufficient income to pay about 78 percent of scheduled benefits through 2094.
·In 2020, program costs exceeded non-interest income for the eleventh year in a row and are projected to exceed non-interest income throughout the remainder of the 75-year period.
·In 2020, total income to the combined OASDI Trust Funds amounted to $1.118 trillion ($1.001 trillion in net payroll tax contributions, $41 billion from taxation of benefits, and $76 billion in interest).
·Total expenditures from the combined OASDI Trust Funds amounted to $1.107 trillion in 2020.
·The assets of the combined OASDI Trust Funds increased by $11 billion in 2020 to a total of $2.908 trillion.  In 2021, the total annual cost of the program is projected to exceed total annual income for the first time since 1982, and, as a result, asset reserves are expected to decline.
·During 2020, an estimated 175 million people had earnings covered by Social Security and paid payroll taxes.
·Social Security paid benefits of $1.096 trillion in calendar year 2020. There were about 65 million beneficiaries at the end of the calendar year.
·The cost of $6.3 billion to administer the program in 2020 was a very low 0.6 percent of total expenditures.
·The combined Trust Fund assets earned interest at an effective annual rate of 2.6 percent in 2020.
The Board of Trustees is comprised of six members. Four serve by virtue of their positions with the federal government: the Secretary of the Treasury; the Commissioner of Social Security; the Secretary of Health and Human Services; and the Secretary of Labor.  There are also two public trustees, whose positions are currently vacant.
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