If a Social Security Annual Report Vanishes into the Forest–

and nobody notices, did it really disappear?

by Bruce Webb

I started reading the Annual Report of the Trustees of Social Security in 1997 and awaited its typical March 31st release date each year since with eager anticipation. To the point that last year I put up a post that morning called Bestest Day of the Year: SSRR Day where ‘SSRR’ stood for ‘Social Security Report Release’. Well people mocked, and rightfully so, because SSRR Day 2009 didn’t happen until May 1st. The delay, though not quite explained, was explicable, on typical SSRR Day only two of six Trustees was actually confirmed.

Well flash forward to 2010. A year older and perhaps a little wiser, and wary from being pwned the year before I put up the following post on Mar 21 heralding the impending release: Upcoming Attractions in Social Security, putting it in the context of the new Obama Deficits Commission while warning that the 2009 Report had been delayed. Well a helpful informant advised me that the word was that it would be delayed until April, and then on April 5th it was announced widely that Report Release would be June 30th. Oddly none of this was official, the news just got out in typical Beltway fashion.

Come mid June I started referencing the new, new updated release date only to be notified by three different knowledgeable sources that word was out that Report Release would be delayed yet again, perhaps until August. And just like with the 2009 Report the explanations advanced were not unreasonable. But none of them were official, to my knowledge no one has at any point officially announced even the fact that the Report would be delayed (and delayed and delayed) beyond its statutory release date, and still less given an official explanation.

I find this odd in the extreme, particularly since Social Security is front and center in the news with the ongoing meetings of the Catfood Commission with their strong suggestions that cuts to Social Security are definitely on the table. You would think that repeated delays in the release of this key Report would at least require SOME explanation and that someone in the media might be asking questions. But no like the proverbial tree falling in the forest no one was close enough to hear the sound. If any. Well the silence is deafening. The lead press item on the Social Security website is the news that Isabella is the number one name for baby girls this year. http://www.ssa.gov/ Which I guess is fascinating news for fans of the Twilight franchise but not quite satisfying for us data driven types.

When the Report does come out it will appear on the following page: http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/TR/index.html (and interestingly the page was updated this weekend to include ‘2010’ as a choice for ‘Publication Year’. As of this moment neither clicking on the Summary or total Report button gets you to anything, but the fact that the page was changed at all is fascinating Certainly I’ll be checking back regularly.) But the delay still remains inexplicable.