Troubles for US Pension System

Posted April 23rd, 2012 at 12:10 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. government programs that provide pensions and medical care to the elderly face a deficit, and might have to eventually reduce benefits unless Congress makes some changes. The programs cover tens of millions of Americans.

Later Monday, government experts will publish a report on the financial status of the pension program, called Social Security, and the health insurance program, Medicare. Monday's report will explain if problems have eased or gotten worse.

Last year, the system's trustees said the Social Security trust fund would run out of money in 2036. That would mean the system would rely solely on a special tax on salaries for revenue, forcing officials to cut benefits by about one-quarter.

They said the health-care program for the elderly faces a similar issue in 2024.

The problem is that an unusually large generation born just after World War Two is reaching retirement age, increasing the number of people eligible for pensions.

But the generations that followed the so-called “Baby Boomers” have fewer members, so taxes on them raise less money.

That gives policymakers the difficult choice of raising taxes, cutting benefits or doing some of both.