Thursday, May 21, 2009

Social Security Post on FindLaw

My new column discussing the Social Security trustees' report is up on FindLaw: "The 2009 Social Security Trustees' Report: Good News Behind the Headlines."

Interested readers can also peruse my Dorf on Law blog posts from last Thursday and from late February of this year as well as a still-relevant column on FindLaw from 2001: "The Trillion-Dollar Breach of Contract: Social Security And The American Worker."

-- Posted by Neil H. Buchanan


egarber said...

Excellent Findlaw piece. Good detail.

One quick point. You said healthcare costs aren't directly tied to Social Security finances, which is true.

But it's worth noting I think that since Medicare premiums come out of SS benefits (I think that's right), SS is definitely impacted by healthcare costs. If costs put pressure on Medicare, and premiums go up as a result, that reduces discretionary money in SS checks -- which puts pressure on Congress to increase benefits, etc.

Neil H. Buchanan said...

egarber is quite correct that there is an indirect connection between Social Security and Medicare, in that increases in Medicare costs will generally reduce the remaining spendable income of the beneficiaries, many of whom are dependent on Social Security for all or most of their income.

Of course, this is really no different from any situation in which someone's expenses rise. When my university added a $600 annual premium to my health insurance this year, that might have given me extra motivation to negotiate a higher salary. Similarly, Social Security recipients might put pressure on their income provider (the US government) to offset their medical cost increases.

For what it's worth, I do not see any scenario in which SS benefits will be increased (for this reason or any other) any time in the next 50 years. All of the pressure is downward -- admittedly for mostly fallacious reasons that I decry.

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