Penn Wharton Budget Model Estimates Effects of Coronavirus on Social Security: Pandemic Could Hasten Trust Fund Depletion by 4 Years

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PHILADELPHIA, May 28, 2020 — The ongoing coronavirus pandemic will have long-term consequences for the federal budget, including the Social Security program’s finances. While the annual Social Security Trustees Report released April 22, 2020 did not account for the effects of the pandemic on Social Security’s finances, the Penn Wharton Budget Model (PWBM) has included these effects in its latest projections of Social Security’s financial outlook.

PWBM finds that:

  • Under the “U-shaped recession” projected by PWBM, the pandemic brings forward the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) trust fund depletion date by four years, from 2036 to 2032.
  • This will happen because reduced Social Security revenue from pandemic-induced job losses, lower earnings, and low interest rates will outweigh corresponding reductions in costs from lower total benefits paid.
  • Under a quicker recovery (a “V-shaped” recession), the OASDI trust fund would instead deplete two years earlier, in 2034.

For more information, see the full PWBM Coronavirus Social Security analysis.

Media inquiries: Wharton Media Relations, (communications@wharton.upenn.edu), +1 (215) 898-8036 

About the Penn Wharton Budget Model 

PWBM is a nonpartisan, independent applied research organization housed at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. PWBM works directly with policymakers and staff, serving as an honest broker by providing accurate, accessible, and transparent economic analysis of the fiscal and economic impact of public policy without advocacy. PWBM’s estimates are regularly referenced by policymakers and top news outlets. For more information, visit https://budgetmodel.wharton.upenn.edu/

About the Wharton School 

Founded in 1881 as the world’s first collegiate business school, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania is shaping the future of business by incubating ideas, driving insights, and creating leaders who change the world. With a faculty of more than 235 renowned professors, Wharton has 5,000 undergraduate, MBA, executive MBA and doctoral students. Each year 13,000 professionals from around the world advance their careers through Wharton Executive Education’s individual, company-customized, and online programs. More than 99,000 Wharton alumni form a powerful global network of leaders who transform business every day. For more information, visit www.wharton.upenn.edu.

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