The 2011 annual Social Security trustees report was released on May 13th, and unfortunately, the news was pretty grim. In 2010, for the first time, the program spent more on benefits than it took in from payroll taxes. That deficit–$49 billion–is just the beginning because this was not just a one-year phenomenon; far from it. The trustees report projects that going forward, the fund will permanently spend more money than it takes in. And the trend is not a good one: according to the report, inflation-adjusted annual deficits will swell to $81.5 billion in 2020, $288.4 billion in 2030, and $343.6 billion in 2035. The other piece of sobering news that came out in the 2011 report is that the predicted year that the fund will be unable to meet its obligations drew one year closer: Social Security is now projected to remain fully funded through 2036. With 25 fully-funded years remaining, current retirees are probably in the clear. But after that all bets are off. Unless the situation is remedied, once the coffers are empty, benefits will have to shrink. Uncertainty and vanishing benefits is hardly a strong a foundation for a secure and comfortable retirement, and the retirees of tomorrow would do well to plan today for a financial future that doesn’t rely too heavily on social security benefits.