GAO’s reports and testimonies give Congress, federal agencies, and the public timely, fact-based, non-partisan information that can improve government operations and save taxpayers billions of dollars.
This publication has been superseded by GAO-08-586G, Financial Audit Manual: Volume 2, July 2008. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency (PCIE) maintain the GAO/PCIE Financial Audit Manual (FAM).
In the 21st century our nation faces a growing fiscal imbalance. A demographic shift will begin to affect the federal budget in 2008 as the first baby boomers become eligible for Social Security benefits. This shift will increase as spending for federal health and retirement programs swells.
Under the current Social Security benefit formula, retired workers can receive benefits at age 65 that equal about 50 percent of preretirement earnings for an illustrative low-wage worker but only about 30 percent for an illustrative high-wage worker.
Many proposals have been offered to restructure the U.S. Social Security system to include individual retirement savings accounts. However, some key proposals would make participation in the accounts voluntary rather than mandatory.
Because of the significance of the federal debt held by the public to the consolidated financial statements of the U.S. government, which GAO is required to audit, GAO audits the Bureau of the Public Debt's (BPD) Schedules of Federal Debt annually.
As more and more of the baby boomers enter retirement age, spending for Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security is expected to absorb correspondingly larger shares of federal revenue and crowd out other spending.
This testimony discusses the long-term viability of the Social Security program. Social Security's Trust Funds will not be exhausted until 2038, but the trustees now project that the program's cash demands on the rest of the federal government will begin much sooner.