The US government’s Social Security Administration announced it will be suspending some of its most popular Social Security benefits.
The announcement follows a study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that found the government has not properly kept pace with rising benefits costs and undercounting retirees’ earnings.
“We need a real return to fiscal discipline and fiscal prudence to address the significant increase in retirement benefits costs in the next few years, including an end to sequestration,” Social Security Administrator Richard Hickey said in a statement.
The GAO report found that in fiscal 2019, the Social Security Trust Fund, which funds the retirement program, would have received $1.05 trillion more than it does today.
The Social Security Disability Insurance Trust Fund will have received just $976 billion, according to the report.
Social Security benefits were last raised in 1975, and the average benefit for a full-time worker will increase to $1,939 in 2019.
But the benefits are projected to fall to $2,039 by 2026.
That means that if current trends continue, benefits for the 65 and older will be more than $3,000 per year in 2024, or about $8,000 more than they are today.
The program’s benefits will also be capped, meaning the average monthly benefit for full- and part-time workers will increase from $1 a month in 2021 to $3.10 a month by 2023.
The retirement system has long been plagued by inflation.
It has been estimated that about half of Social Security recipients live below the poverty line, and that more than 20 million Americans receive some form of income assistance.
The Social Security disability benefits cap was set at $3 a month for full time workers in 2019 and will be indexed to inflation starting in 2021, the report said.
The cap will be raised each year for the next 25 years, with the maximum increase set at about $1 per month in 2020.
Hickey said the caps on Social Security retirement benefits were needed to keep costs down and to “restore the confidence and stability” of the retirement system.