Awaiting the 2015 Social Security Report (not holding breath)
FEDERAL OLD-AGE AND SURVIVORS INSURANCE TRUST FUND AND FEDERAL DISABILITY INSURANCE TRUST FUND
(c) With respect to the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund and the Federal Disability Insurance Trust Fund (hereinafter in this title called the “Trust Funds”) there is hereby created a body to be known as the Board of Trustees of the Trust Funds (hereinafter in this title called the “Board of Trustees”) which Board of Trustees shall be composed of the Commissioner of Social Security, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Labor, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services, all ex officio, and of two members of the public (both of whom may not be from the same political party), who shall be nominated by the President for a term of four years and subject to confirmation by the Senate. A member of the Board of Trustees serving as a member of the public and nominated and confirmed to fill a vacancy occurring during a term shall be nominated and confirmed only for the remainder of such term. An individual nominated and confirmed as a member of the public may serve in such position after the expiration of such member’s term until the earlier of the time at which the member’s successor takes office or the time at which a report of the Board is first issued under paragraph (2) after the expiration of the member’s term. The Secretary of the Treasury shall be the Managing Trustee of the Board of Trustees (hereinafter in this title called the “Managing Trustee”). The Deputy Commissioner of Social Security shall serve as Secretary of the Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees shall meet not less frequently than once each calendar year. It shall be the duty of the Board of Trustees to—
(1) Hold the Trust Funds;
(2) Report to the Congress not later than the first day of April of each year on the operation and status of the Trust Funds during the preceding fiscal year and on their expected operation and status during the next ensuing five fiscal years;
(3) Report immediately to the Congress whenever the Board of Trustees is of the opinion that the amount of either of the Trust Funds is unduly small;
(4) Recommend improvements in administrative procedures and policies designed to effectuate the proper coordination of the old-age and survivors insurance and Federal-State unemployment compensation program; and
(5) Review the general policies followed in managing the Trust Funds, and recommend changes in such policies, including necessary changes in the provisions of the law which govern the way in which the Trust Funds are to be managed.
The Social Security Trustees’ Report used to come out like clockwork on March 31. In fact I used to put up links to the most important Tables and Figures based on the URL’s of the previous year’s Report on my own Social Security blog in the confident and proven belief that my readers (both of them) would have instant access to the Report literally the second it was released to the web in accordance with the plain text of the Act. Well in the last two (?) years of the Bush Administration the Report came late, for reasons that seemed, well reasons. But then Bush hated Social Security and had established a Commission to transform it to a privatized system. Surely the Obama Administration would just start issuing the Report on time and consistent with the requirements of the Act. Well no. They never have. And have never explained why they didn’t comply with the plain text of the law. And never explained why certain parties including avowed opponents of Social Security somehow got advance knowledge of a text which historically has been strictly embargoed.
So who knows. Perhaps eager beavers who have bookmarked http://www.ssa.gov/oact/tr/2015/index.html and who link to it around 10AM EDT next Tuesday March 31st will get the same jump on the Report that I did back in the day. It being the law and such. But the Obama Administration has never issued the Report on time or explained the delay. Probably because someone on the inside said “let’s screw with that Social Security fanatic Bruce Webb’s head and delay the Report for any or no reason at all”. Because why not.
Non-paranoid comments on any aspect of Social Security welcome (even Dale and BK)
Do you have a view on the modifications to Medicare Part B and D premium means testing under the Doc Fix fix (HR 2)?
Means testing already exists for Medicare Part B, associated supplemental plans, and also Part D plans.
For a individual with a salary of up to $85,000 and joint tax filer up to $170,000, the Premium = $104.90. For an individual with a salary of Greater than $85,000 and up to $107,000 and joint tax filers $170,000 to $214,000 the Monthly Premium = $146.90. There are more premiums increases from that point upward based upon income. Remember too, Part B covers only 80% of medical costs. To cover the other 20% you have to buy supplemental insurance which is at least as costly as Part B premiums and also subject to income variations. Part D also has similar income variations.
Check here: http://www.medicare.gov/your-medicare-costs/part-b-costs/part-b-costs.html
Hope that explains it.
Elimination of the SGR fiasco (Sustainable Growth Rate) which imposed what everyone recognized as a counterproductive broad-axe cut in physician reimbursements simply to meet an artificial target formula which in turn led to a need for a ‘Doc Fix’ year after year was worthwhile enough to excuse any number of tradeoffs.
From my narrow-minded (pin-headed?) perspective the worst thing about SGR and subsequent Doc Fixes it that it and they made a mockery of CBO Long Term Outlook scoring. Under long term practice CBO scores budgets under current law projections which in this case include SGR cuts that had grown to 21%. Since everyone knew that Republicans were not going to allow that kind of revenue cut to one of their prime bases (doctors) and Democrats were not going to risk even more doctors from refusing to take Medicare patients the idea that we should actually score the several hundred billion in savings that would result from actual imposition of SGR the result was that CBO introduced its “Alternative Fiscal Scenario” which allowed it to depart from current law projections and instead make them based on their own political judgement about what Congress was likely to do. Which opened the door to all kinds of possible shenanigans.
There are ways to attack cost growth in Part B and D. On the other hand there are trends in medicine that may well have the effect of shifting the proportion of money spent on Part A on the one hand and Parts B and D on the other which cause the latter to break the mechanical 40% threshold that triggers SGR cuts.
I have not examined the specifics that wkj is alluding to. Although I suspect like everything that runs through the sausage factory, sorry I meant the “legislative process”, a strict examination of each and every ingredient will likely turn everyone’s stomach, in this case the elimination of the need for the Doc Fix means we have a more healthy product going forward
Controlling medical costs can be accomplished by allowing Medicare to negotiate rates for Pharma, doctors, hospitals, and procedures. I agree the CBO using the SGR cuts in its calculations is as silly as Fair Market Valuation of the risk for Student Loans. Something will have to be done soon as hospitals and doctors consolidate, they will be able to leverage insurance companies even more than the current price gouging going on by some of the better known hospitals who can demand a rate based upon name.
it’s not so easy as that. i have been paranoid about SS since ought 7.
you could tell the fix was in by the way the Democrats refused to discuss the facts about SS and relied entirely on rhetoric to claim the mantle of “defenders of Social Security” while cutting deals with the R”s to gut it.
as for the doc fix, i still advocate single payer (take it or leave it doctors fees) though i no longer hope for it.
A recent experience with a dr who charged Medicare two thousand dollars for walking past me in the waiting room, seeing my cut thumb from twenty feet away and writing up a diagnosis “cut thumb,” kind of gave me the idea that doctors fees are subject to fraud and abuse.
So, If I read the latest report correctly. In 2032 SS will run out of money. But this deficit isn’t particularly large. An increase in SS withholding of an additional 3% will cover all anticipated expenses in perpetuity. It is just a matter of Congress increasing the withholding that will solve the “problem” of the trust fund insolvency.
Some people will not want that additional money withheld, but I suspect they would rather pay that small amount more during their working years than receive less in retirement.
David, a man after my own heart.
You are correct. Best news is we can reach the 3% (or 4% or 2% depending on how you want to look at it, and as the accident will) we can reach it one tenth of one percent (per year) at a time.
and the 2% (which is what you would ultimately see come out of your wages) will not be reached until wages have gone up about 25%, so you will have more money after the tax increase as well as have paid for a longer retirement at a higher standard of living.
i wish people could understand this.