If your outlook on Social Security is a dismal one, the government's latest revelation will only add to your gloom: The trust funds that feed Social Security will be exhausted in 2033, a full three years earlier than the last government estimate. Medicare is still set to die in 2024, thanks to a 2% cut helped that program's fund hold steady, reports the AP. If the funds run dry, payroll taxes will only foot part of the bill: about 75% of Social Security benefits and 87% of Medicare costs.
What's accelerating the race toward insolvency? According to the programs' trustees, a few things: a rapidly aging, Baby Boomer-filled population and the weak economy, for one. Lower payroll tax receipts for another, brought on by suppressed wages thanks to high energy prices and the expectation that even when the economy improves, people will work fewer hours than projected. And then there are politicians. The trustees pointed a big finger at lawmakers' reluctance to act, and urged them to "not delay" when it comes to addressing the financial challenges the programs face. (Read more Social Security stories.)