The Social Security Wild Card

Published: Jan 1, 1988. Publicly Released: Jan 1, 1988.

Additional Materials:


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

This article, which appeared in the GAO Journal, No. 4, Winter 1988, discusses maintaining the Social Security Program and Trust Fund surpluses. As a result of increases in payroll taxes, the Trust Fund is now building a surplus at a rate exceeding $100 million daily. However, in implementing deficit-reduction legislation, Congress used the Trust Fund to mask the actual budget deficit. Continued use of the funds for this purpose would require increasing payroll taxes, reversing of expanded benefits, or raising the retirement age. Policymakers consider the surplus the federal budget wild card, since they can use it: (1) as intended, in preparation for future benefits; (2) to mask budget deficits; (3) to pay for expanded benefits for Social Security recipients; or (4) to cut payroll taxes to reduce the surplus.

May 5, 2016

Apr 13, 2016

Apr 4, 2016

Mar 1, 2016

Oct 29, 2015

Oct 27, 2015

  • retirement icon, source: PhotoDisc

    Social Security's Future:

    Answers to Key Questions
    GAO-16-75SP: Published: Oct 27, 2015. Publicly Released: Oct 27, 2015.

Sep 30, 2015

Sep 29, 2015

Sep 4, 2015

Jun 15, 2015

Looking for more? Browse all our products here