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Why Is Labor Force Participation Shrinking?

September 5, 2012

With the latest jobs report coming out Friday, the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) recent budget and economic update provides important context for one closely watched  figure:  the labor force participation rate.

The percentage of people over age 16 who are working or actively seeking work has...

Happy Birthday, Social Security

August 14, 2012

Social Security marks its 77th birthday today.  This highly successful program pays benefits to 56 million Americans.  It’s the single most important source of income for its elderly beneficiaries, contributing on average two-thirds of income...

Defending Disability Insurance

August 9, 2012

The Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) program provides modest but vital benefits to workers who become unable to perform substantial work on account of a serious medical impairment, as we explain in a new paper.

Although some critics charge that the program’s spending is “...

Comparing the Social Security Shortfall and the Cost of the Bush Tax Cuts

May 14, 2012

Social Security’s trustees recently reported that — over the next 75 years — Social Security will have a shortfall of 2.67 percent of taxable payroll, or 1 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  That is, raising taxes by an average of 1 percent of GDP could put Social Security on a sound footing over 75 years.  How does that compare...

Social Security Trustees' Reports Tell Consistent Story

May 11, 2012

The Social Security trustees’ latest annual report showed some deterioration in the program’s long-term finances since their 2011 report, which in turn was a bit more pessimistic than 2010’s.  But, as our new analysis of the 2012 report explains, the overall picture has...

SSI Benefits Vital to Severely Disabled Children and Their Families

May 7, 2012

The Brookings Institution will host an event May 8 to debate how we help some of our most vulnerable citizens — disabled children and their families.  An important part of the safety net for such families is Supplemental Security Income (SSI),...

Don’t Forget Demographics’ Role in Rising Disability Costs

May 2, 2012

A recent New York Times story on the rise in Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) spending understates the large role of demographic factors and, as a result, may give undue ammunition to critics who urge harsh cuts to the program.

The story says that...

Social Security: It’s Not 1983

April 24, 2012

The Social Security trustees’ report released yesterday moved up the projected date on which the program’s trust fund will become insolvent from 2036 to 2033.  “Never since the 1983 reforms have we come as close to trust-fund depletion as we are right now,” trustee Charles Blahous is quoted as saying in several...

What to Look for in Monday’s Social Security Trustees’ Report

April 20, 2012

The trustees of the Social Security system — the Secretaries of the Treasury, Health and Human Services, and Labor, the Commissioner of Social Security, and two public trustees — will release their annual review of the program’s finances on Monday.  Here are a few things to keep in mind in the meantime.
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To Reduce Deficits, "Chain Link" Both Benefits and Taxes

February 22, 2012

Policymakers can gradually trim the growth of benefit programs and boost future tax revenues by using the “chained” Consumer Price Index (CPI), rather than the official CPI, to adjust various federal benefits and provisions of the tax code to account for inflation, our new report explains.

Many economists believe that...

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