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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Good News on Social Security: We Aren't Living Longer

Good News on Social Security: We Aren't Living Longer

Saturday, 19 January 2013 06:21

Two weeks ago the NYT ran a lengthy column by two social scientists, Gary King and Samir Soneji, under the headline "Social Security: It's Worse Than You Think." The column warned that the Social Security shortfall will actually be larger than currently projected because life expectancies are increasing more rapidly than the trustees had assumed. I had criticized the piece at the time because, among other things, it took no account of how its claim on improving health might affect other aspects of the program, such as the possibility that it would reduce disability rates, allow people to work later in their lives (many people retire due to health conditions), and reduce health care costs which could lower the amount of money paid to workers in employer provided health insurance which escapes the Social Security tax. 

It turns out that King and Soneji's case on life expectancy is far less compelling than they claim in their column. The actuaries at the Social Security Administration put out a response this week. They pointed out that the King and Soneji methodology is not anything new to them and note several inaccuracies in their column and the paper on which it is based. So it looks like we may not have to worry after all, we are going to die young.

Comments (4)Add Comment
written by Last Mover, January 19, 2013 6:59
Death panels keep popping up in the strangest places.
Bear Jew
written by Saul Van Lanen, January 19, 2013 7:37
Life expectancy is measured from birth in these studies. The advances in child mortality rates has a huge impact on overall life expectancy. What we really should be concerned about is life expectancy after age 62(thats when people are allowed to start collecting SS). That actually has NOT gone up hardly at all, especially for lower income people who will be depending on SS benefits. Just need to keep this in mind when suggesting raising the eligibility age and cutting benefits for SS.
Part of the problem: Affordable Care Act did not much to improve to access to care.
written by Rachel, January 19, 2013 11:06

So people are obliged to pay for care they may not get (which may, at today's prices, lead to some deterioration in the lifestyle). The problem of insurance but no care seems to be a particularly acute in some rural states and in areas with where the cost of a medical practice and medical labor is quite high.

There was some talk, around when the ACA was passed, of giving nurses more authority to help with some basic medications that people might not have access to.

But in the economically illiterate media, to say nothing of the illiterate and biassed political class, the idea never caught on.
save the safety net
written by Marie Taylor, January 26, 2013 2:02
check out this petition to eliminate the cap on wages subject to social security earnings to keep social security solvent https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/keep-social-security-solvent-removing-cap-withholdings/Tb5PBNvG

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.