The reason for asking is that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has recently put out some very pessimistic projections for Social Security. These projections got some attention from the media because they were considerably more pessimistic than the projections from the Social Security Trustees, implying a somewhat larger gap between projected benefit payments and projected revenue.
While most of the attention was on the differences in the program’s finances, what actually would mean more to most people is the difference in projected wage growth between the two programs. The CBO projections show a considerably slower path of wage growth than the Social Security trustees projections.
The main reason for this difference is that CBO projects that wage income will be further redistributed upward over the next decade, while the trustees project a small reversal of some of the upward redistribution of the last three decades. While the share of wage income that went over the taxable cap (currently $118,500) was just 10 percent in 1980, this had risen to 18 percent by 2015. This isone of the main reasons that Social Security’s finances look worse now than had been projected three decades ago.
– Center for Economic and Policy Research