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Lots of assumptions, for something called “Social Security”

August 24, 2017

Last month, Social Security’s board of trustees issued their annual report on the program’s financial condition. This massive, complex analysis arrived in a pdf file 269 pages long.

Can you guess how many times the word “assumption” appeared in there?

Five hundred and ninety two times.  592. And when you add the words “assume” and “assumed,” there are another 141.

Granted, a program advertised to provide benefits to millions of people for decades into the future can get pretty complex. But in light of the huge funding shortfall despite a massive intergenerational wealth transfer (from future participants to current participants) implied by current law and policy, you have to wonder how unstable Social Security is.

Speaking of generations, taking a peek back at the 1970 annual report, that report was roughly similar in length to the latest report, but only had about half the “assumptions.”


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