Social Security says system's costs will exceed income this year

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This is the first time that's happened since the Reagan admin.

The Social Security program's costs are expected to exceed its income this year, marking the first time that has happened since 1982 and forcing the US government to dip into the retirement system's trust fund to pay benefits to participants.

At the same time, it said, outlays from Medicare's hospital trust fund "are expected to be higher than last year's estimates due to higher-than-anticipated spending in 2017, legislation that increases hospital spending", and higher payments to private Medicare Advantage plans.

The United States' largest publicly funded medical insurance program will run out of money sooner than expected, according to an official projection released on Tuesday. Medicare is also expected to spend more than projected previous year, the report said.

Before the Affordable Care Act was passed, the trustees had projected the Part A trust fund would run dry this year. Medicare Part B, which covers outpatient visits, and Part D, which pays for most prescription drugs, are paid for in part by general revenue and by individuals' premiums.

The twin warnings come as Congress has cut revenue and boosted spending - moves that, analysts say, will leave the government's finances struggling for years to come.

Social Security encompasses two programs, one for retirees and one that provides disability benefits.

Last year, total program income - which includes payroll taxes, taxation of Social Security benefits and interest earnings - amounted to $997 billion, exceeding total expenditures of $952 billion.

Social Security covers 62 million people, split among retired workers and their dependents, survivors of workers who've died and disabled people.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the latest report shows that Social Security and Medicare remain secure, but long-term problems persist.

"As in past years, the trustees have determined that the fund is not adequately financed over the next 10 years", the report said, citing in part lower payroll taxes collected on lowered wages in 2017 and rising hospital spending.

"The continued delay in enacting legislative repairs renders effective solutions more elusive and poses particular risks to economically vulnerable populations", Charles Blahous and Robert Reischauer, both former public trustees of the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds, wrote in a joint report published by the Bipartisan Policy Center in advance of the trustees report.

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