Social Security starts its downward slide this year. Because of the recession and 10 percent unemployment, payroll tax receipts will fall below pensions paid out for the first time.
Today’s retirees need not worry. The imbalance will not affect the program until 2037, or thereabouts. Because income has exceeded expenses for decades, the Social Security trust fund has a balance of about $2.5 trillion invested in Treasury bills. The interest on those notes added to payroll tax receipts will keep pension checks flowing for a few years.