With the release of the Social Security and Medicare Trustees Report AP tweeted out:
"BREAKING: Government: Medicare will become insolvent in 2026, three years earlier than expected, Social Security to follow in 2034."
What AP meant to say was that the programs would first face a shortfall. The programs would still be able to afford the vast majority of scheduled benefits. In the case of Medicare, the projections show that if nothing were done the program, it would be paying out more than 90 percent of scheduled benefits.
In the case of Social Security, the program would be paying out more than 75 percent of scheduled benefits in the years after 2034, assuming no changes are ever made. In the case of Social Security, since the average inflation-adjusted benefit is projected to be roughly 20 percent higher in 2034 than it is today, the payable benefit would still be roughly the same as what retirees get today.
Of course, it would unacceptable for the program not to pay promised benefits, but it is wrong to imply that people face a prospect of not collecting Social Security 16 years down the road. There is no scenario under current law where that is possible.