Robert Ball

Robert M. Ball served on the six-member Advisory Council on Social Security from 1994-1996. He was the U.S. Commissioner of Social Security from 1962-1973 and is the founding chair of the
National Academy of Social Insurance.

Recent Articles

A Secure System

A former commissioner of Social Security explains how to save it.

T here is no financial crisis in Social Security. But it does need adjustment. Three simple changes would reduce the projected Social Security 75-year deficit from 2.17 percent of payroll to about 0.80 percent. These changes would reduce benefits only an average of 3 percent below what present law provides and no Social Security tax increase would be required for 50 years. These changes would: Extend coverage to new hires in the 3.7 million state and local positions still excluded from the Social Security program (most are covered); Increase from 35 years to 38 years the period over which average indexed wages are computed, which in turn forms the basis for determining benefit amounts; Apply the income tax to benefits in excess of what the worker paid in, as is now true for other contributory-defined benefit plans, and deposit the taxes in the trust fund. Although the special exemption for low-income beneficiaries would be eliminated, 30 percent would still not pay taxes. Also, from...