The Social Security Board of Trustees today released its 2019 annual report on the long-term financial health of the Old-Age Survivors Insurance (OASI) and Disability Insurance (DI) Funds. The report notes that the combined funds reserves are projected to become depleted in 2035, one year later than projected last year, with 80 percent of scheduled benefits payable at that time. The DI Trust Fund reserves are estimated to become depleted in 2052, extended 20 years from last year’s estimate of 2032, with 91 percent of benefits still payable.
According to the Trustee report, Social Security paid benefits of nearly $ 989 billion in calendar year 2018. There were about 63 million beneficiaries at the end of the calendar year. It also noted that it costs $6.7 billion to administer the Social Security program in 2018 was a very low 0.7 percent of total expenditures.
Ensuring Social Security’s Financial Stability
Chairman John B. Larson (D-Conn.), chairing the House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee, notes that the Social Security’s financing is strong in the near term and but faces a modest shortfall over the long run. “The report underscores why it is so important that Congress take action now to prevent cuts from occurring in 2035, by ensuring Social Security is fully funded and strengthened for today’s seniors and future generation,” says Larson.
Following Trustee report’s release, AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins stated, “Social Security and Medicare continue to be crucial to older Americans’ well-being – to their income and health security. Today’s reports show that both programs remain strong, but there are long-term challenges to address on a bipartisan basis. The most pressing issue is the need to lower the cost of health care and especially prescription drugs. No good reason exists for Americans to continue paying the highest brand name drug prices in the world. “
The House is doing just that. The Committee on Energy and Commerce enact two bills (along with four other proposals) that would put the brakes to skyrocketing prescription drug costs.
H.R., 1499, the “Protecting Consumer Access to Generic Drugs Act of 2019., introduced by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL), would make it illegal for brand-name and generic drug manufacturers to enter into agreements in which the brand-name drug manufacturer pays the generic manufacturer to keep a generic equivalent off the market. The bill was passed by voice vote.
H.R., 965, the “Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples (CREATES) Act of 2019,” introduced by Reps. David Cicilline (D-RI), Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Doug Collins (R-GA), Peter Welch (D-VT), and David McKinley (R-WV), would establish a process by which generic manufacturers could obtain sufficient quantities of brand drug samples for testing thereby deterring gaming of safety protocols that brand manufacturers use to delay or impede generic entry. The bill passed by a bipartisan vote of 51-0.
House Democratic leadership controlling the chamber will push for passage of these legislative proposals on the House floor but companion legislation must be passed in the Senate and signed by the president to become law.
View the 2019 Trustees Report at www.socialsecurity.gov/OACT/TR/2019/.