Letter to the Editor ¦ November 11, 1998
No Need to Act Yet on Changing Social Security

By David Langer

To the Editor:
Re "Changing Social Security" (editorial, Nov. 9, 1998): Contrary to the perceived wisdom, Social Security is not in trouble financially. Critics have managed to convince the public that the program needs to be fixed quickly, but the bases for their concerns are financial projections prepared by Social Security actuaries whose figures show that the Social Security trust fund will be depleted by 2032.

These projections merit little credence, since they virtually disregard substantial prior economic history. For example, actuaries for the Social Security Administration have assumed that the gross domestic product would increase an average of 1.5 percent annually over the next 75 years. In fact, since 1960, the G.D.P. has consistently increased by more than 3 percent. If the Social Security Administration's actuaries had given more weight to this historical experience, they would not have concluded that the trust fund will be depleted by 2032.

Thus, there is no need to cut Social Security benefits, raise Social Security taxes, raise retirement age or cut cost-of-living increases. As you note, Medicare is where the real problems are.

--David Langer, a consulting actuary and president of David Langer Co., Inc. NY