Physicians and supporters sign a petition against state cuts to heath care during a rally against state budget cuts to dual-eligible patients of Medicare and Medicaid programs in Texas in the parking lot of the Health & Human Services Commission-Office of Border Affairs on Tuesday, March 27, 2012, in McAllen, Texas. (Joel Martinez/AP)
- Apr 25:
- Survey: Americans felt more secure in jobs in 2012
- Apr 5:
- Obama proposes cuts to Social Security and other benefit programs
- Mar 3:
- Spending cuts reach deficit-cutting goal, but at a price
- Feb 13:
- Obama minimum wage plan renews economic debate
- Feb 1:
- Report: US job market looks surprisingly strong
- Jan 26:
- Outgoing Timothy Geithner believes U.S. economy gaining strength
- Jan 18:
- Colorado's unemployment dips to 7.6%, but state loses 2,400 jobs
- Jan 3:
- New tax law packed with breaks for businesses
- Economy, year-end sales help auto industry in 2012
- Jan 2:
- EEUU evita abismo fiscal pero no futuras tormenta
- Jan 1:
- Logran acuerdo para evitar precipicio fiscal
- Dec 29:
- Aumenta el salario mínimo por hora en Colorado
- Dec 28:
- EEUU, al borde del precipicio fiscal
- Dec 17:
- Muchos pagarían más impuestos en declaración
- EEUU y la UE consideran pacto comercial
- Dec 11:
- Strong job market in Denver metro area expected in 1st quarter of 2013
- Dec 2:
- Suben compras por internet en EEUU
- Nov 30:
- Fiscal cliff: Colorado stands to lose $2.1 billion without a deal
- Sep 20:
- Decline in Colorado household income slowing, census shows
- Sep 3:
- Consejos de la Secretaria de Labor Hilda L. Solis para el Día de Trabajo
- Labor Day tips from the U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis
- Aug 31:
- Crecen abusos financieros contra personas mayores
- Aug 10:
- Predicen oportunidades laborales para hispanos de EEUU
- Aug 8:
- Colorado cities say local economies improving
- Jul 11:
- Datos mediocres del empleo fijan tono en contienda presidencial
- Minimal impact of jobs reports highlights some electoral realities
- Jun 20:
- Colorado could be facing a new wave of foreclosures
- Jun 18:
- Parties are worlds apart on how to fix economy
- Jun 12:
- More than seven in 10 U.S. teens jobless in summer
- Jun 4:
- Empresas de EEUU prefieren esperar antes de contratar más
- Jun 3:
- Obama: Congreso debe tomar medidas sobre empleo
- May 21:
- Gasoline prices dip slightly in Denver
- May 15:
- Comienza a regir el tratado de libre comercio entre Estados Unidos y Colombia
- Apr 19:
- Bajan ligeramente solicitudes de ayuda por desempleo en EEUU
- Apr 12:
- Recuperación económica en EEUU no se refleja entre hispanos
- Apr 10:
- Report: Denver metro area leads nation in adding construction jobs
- Mar 29:
- U.S. jobless claims fall to lowest level in 4 years
- Mar 28:
- As Colorado jobs start to come back, searchers' skills need work
- Mar 20:
- Mejora panorama de la construcción: aumentan pedidos de permisos
- Mar 19:
- Colorado budget projection shows $26 million increase in revenue this year
- Mar 12:
- Wall Street cierra mixto y confuso
- Mar 10:
- Obama: "Estados Unidos regresa"
- Mar 9:
- Obama: New jobs report a sign economy on rebound
- Mar 7:
- Senador federal y empresaria hispana impulsan trabajos para latinos
- Feb 6:
- Obama dice que merece la reelección: no ha terminado su trabajo
- Feb 3:
- Baja del desempleo impulsa precios de acciones
- Jan 31:
- Study: One in four Coloradans have almost no savings
- Jan 30:
- Suben los ingresos un 0,5% en EEUU, pero no el gasto del consumidor
- Jan 27:
- Economía crece 2,8% en cuarto trimestre en EEUU
- Jan 25:
- La Fed no encarecerá tasas de interés antes de fines de 2014
- Jan 9:
- Esperanzas de empleo mejoran para grupos más afectados en EEUU
- Jan 6:
- Nation adds 200,000 jobs in December hiring surge
- Jan 3:
- Fed to regularly forecast interest-rate changes
- La Fed dice que pronosticará regularmente los cambios de tasas
- Dec 31:
- Economistas: Políticas de Obama son "regulares" o "malas"
- Dec 27:
- Obama nominates 2 to Federal Reserve Board
- Dec 21:
- Bank of America agrees to record $335 million fair lending settlement
- Dec 19:
- Congress moves toward standoff over payroll tax
- US stocks drop; Citi and other big banks fall hard
- Dec 16:
- Encuesta AP: Más de la mitad dice que Obama merece perder
- Dec 13:
- Republicans muscle tax cut bill through House
- Wall Street en alza por buenas noticias en Europa
- Tapped-out Santas wrapping up shopping earlier this year as money tight, U.S. survey finds
- Dec 12:
- La Fed afina plan para revelar en qué dirección irán las tasas
- Dec 10:
- Public retirement ages come under greater scrutiny
- Dec 9:
- House GOP introduces bill renewing payroll tax cut
- Dec 6:
- Colorado is expected to create more jobs than the rest of the nation, economic analysts assert
- Postal cutbacks to delay 1st-class mail
- Dec 5:
- Obama makes case for extending payroll tax cuts
- Dec 3:
- Senador: Brasil debería ser primer socio comercial de EEUU
- Leaders at Americas talks: world economy top worry
- Nov 30:
- American: Una mancha en una historia distinguida
- Nov 29:
- U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis discusses jobs package with Denver Latinos
- Americans in November more confident about economy
- Nov 22:
- Debt panel's demise sets up partisan wrangling
- Nov 21:
- What next? Lawmakers look to undo the back-up plan
- Nov 18:
- US House rejects balanced budget proposal
- Nov 13:
- Obama signs Asia-Pacific business travel bill
- Nov 9:
- Obama signs order to cut travel, cellphones, swag
- Nov 7:
- Under Colorado program, companies said they were owed $75M in tax credits, but created only 564 jobs
- Nov 4:
- Obama: World economic recovery on 'firmer footing'
- Oct 24:
- Obama offers mortgage relief on Western trip
- Oct 21:
- Fuerte alza en Wall Street por ganancias corporativas
- Oct 14:
- Stocks rise on gain in retail sales; Google jumps
- Oct 12:
- Congress poised to OK stalled free trade deals
- Lawmakers, White House regroup on jobs
- Oct 11:
- GOP senators vote to defeat Obama's jobs bill
- Oct 10:
- NYPD costs rise as Wall Street protests continue
- Unemployed seek protection against job bias
- Congress takes up China, free trade, jobs bills
- Bank loyalty fading on fees as customers take accounts elsewhere
- Oct 6:
- Obama to GOP: Act on jobs or get run out of town
- Obama challenges GOP senators: Vote for jobs bill
- Sep 28:
- Congress dodges one crisis, now on to the next
- Sep 26:
- Obama sells jobs plan in Silicon Valley
- Sep 22:
- Census: Recession takes big toll on young adults
- Sep 19:
- Colorado offers 45-day tax amnesty window
- US home builder outlook worsens in September
- Labor Department expands enforcement of wage violations
- Sep 16:
- Stocks climb for solid weekly gains
- Sep 8:
- Cut taxes, Obama tells Congress in $450B jobs plan
- Sep 6:
- Working-age adults make up record share of US poor
- Sep 5:
- Obama says GOP must back US first, create jobs
- Aug 5:
- Mercados mundiales en baja a pesar de informe positivo de EEUU
- Stocks turn lower as optimism about jobs fades
WASHINGTON (AP) - An aging population and an economy that has been slow to rebound are straining the long-term finances of Social Security and Medicare, the government's two largest benefit programs.
Those problems are getting new attention Monday as the trustees who oversee the massive programs release their annual financial reports.
Medicare is in worse shape than Social Security because of rising health care costs. But both programs are on a path to become insolvent in the coming decades, unless Congress acts, according to the trustees.
Last year, the trustees projected the Medicare hospital insurance fund for seniors would run out of money in 2024. Social Security's retirement fund was projected to run dry in 2038, while the disability fund was projected to be drained by 2018.
New projections in March gave a more dire assessment of the disability program, which has seen a spike in applications as more disabled workers lose jobs and apply for benefits.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the disability fund would run out of money in 2016. Social Security's trustees are again urging Congress to shore up the disability system by reallocating money from the retirement program, just as lawmakers did in 1994.
If the Social Security and Medicare funds ever become exhausted, both programs would collect only enough money in payroll taxes to pay partial benefits, the trustees said.
"I don't know how to make it clear to the public, but in my mind the sirens are going off," said Mary Johnson, policy analyst for the Senior Citizens League. "I wouldn't say we're under attack, but we are in a very, very serious position."
Don't expect the finances to look much better, if at all, in the new report. Tax revenues have started to rebound but they are still below pre-recession levels. Also, this year's cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, was much higher than the trustees projected it would be.
Last spring, the trustee's projected that Social Security recipients would get a benefit increase of 0.7 percent for this year, but higher-than-expected inflation pushed it to 3.6 percent. That was good news for seniors but it drained more resources from the system.
The trustees who oversee the programs are Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue. There are also two public trustees, Charles Blahous and Robert Reischauer.
More than 56 million retirees, disabled workers, spouses and children receive Social Security. The average retirement benefit is $1,232 a month; the average monthly benefit for disabled workers is $1,111.
About 50 million people are covered by Medicare, the medical insurance program for older Americans.
One bright spot for Medicare is that the pace of cost increases has eased somewhat, even as baby boomers are turning 65 at the rate of 10,000 a day and becoming eligible for the program. So instead of speeding toward a budget cliff, Medicare is merely steering toward insolvency.
"The trends in Medicare are more modest than the cost increases we have seen in the private commercial sector," said economist David Blitzer, who oversees Standard & Poor's index of health care costs. "But both Medicare and the commercial sector face rising cost pressures no matter what, and they seem to come from virtually all directions."
Because Medicare is a government program, it sets prices on take-it-or-leave-it terms for hospitals and doctors, who complain it doesn't pay enough and that causes them to charge more to privately insured patients.
Many experts say the longer Congress waits to address the two programs, the more difficult it could become to impose adequate changes. If Congress acts soon, it can phase in changes over time, perhaps sparing current retirees while giving those closing in on retirement time to prepare.
But Washington has struggled to make tough political choices that could involve raising taxes, cutting benefits or some combination of both.
Advocates for seniors oppose benefit cuts in either program. They say Social Security's finances are secure for decades to come.
"No one is saying you don't have to maintain it," said Eric Kingson, co-chair of the Strengthen Social Security Campaign and a professor of social work at Syracuse University. "What I worry about is reducing the benefit structure or radically changing the system."
Kingson and other advocates say Social Security could be shored up by simply increasing the amount of wages subject to Social Security taxes - an idea that most Republicans in Congress flatly oppose.
Social Security is financed by a 6.2 percent tax on the first $110,100 in wages. It is paid by both employers and workers. Congress temporarily reduced the tax on workers to 4.2 percent for 2011 and 2012, though the program's finances are being made whole through increased government borrowing.
The Medicare tax rate is 1.45 percent on all wages, paid by both employees and workers.