CBO Sees Major Trust Fund Exhaustions On The Horizon
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that three major trust funds will deplete their reserves within the next ten years, with a fourth exhausting 13 years from now.
CBO's latest budget outlook now projects the exhaustion of the Highway Trust Fund, the Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Fund, and Medicare's Hospital Insurance (HI) Trust Fund all within the decade.
According to CBO’s most recent long-term projections, Social Security's Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) Trust Fund – which is larger than the other three funds combined – will exhaust its reserves in calendar year 2031.
|Exhaustion Date||Annual Deficit in Exhaustion Year||Deficit in Exhaustion Year as a % of Scheduled Outlays|
|Highway Trust Fund (combined)||2022||$17 billion||29 percent|
|Social Security Disability Insurance Trust Fund||2025||$23 billion||12 percent|
|Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund||2026||$71 billion||14 percent|
|Social Security Old-Age Survivors Insurance Trust Fund||2031*||$526 billion||29 percent|
Source: Congressional Budget Office, CRFB calculations. *All years are fiscal years except OASI exhaustion, which is calendar year.
The Social Security and Medicare Trustees project slightly different trust fund exhaustion dates for those programs: 2029 for HI, 2028 for DI, and 2035 for OASI, with the theoretical combined Social Security fund exhausting in 2034. See the 2017 version of this analysis for more details on each program.
Importantly, trust fund exhaustion dates are often an incomplete metric for gauging the underlying fiscal health of these programs. Each fund will have run cash deficits for several years by the time its balance is depleted, adding substantially to the public debt. However, exhaustion dates are important in that they set a deadline for legislative action.
Policymakers should act well in advance of these deadlines to ensure any solution to ensure trust fund solvency is well-crafted and shared equitably among generations.