Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, pictured Thursday leaving a Blair House meeting on the budget, announced that insolvency looms for government entitlements. (Evan Vucci, AP Photo)

By Noam N. Levey, Washington Bureau
May 13, 2011, 11:19 a.m.

Caught in the sluggish recovery from the last recession, Social Security and Medicare face an increasingly dismal fiscal future, the federal government reported Friday in its annual review of the two mammoth entitlement programs.

Medicare, which now provides health insurance to some 47 million elderly and disabled Americans, could begin running a deficit in 2024, five years earlier than projected last year.

And Social Security, which last year began paying out more in benefits than it collected in taxes, now faces insolvency in 2036, compared to 2037 in last year’s projections.

Over the years, the Social Security and Medicare trustees have produced widely varying assessments of the financial health of the two programs, as the nation’s economy has moved through periods of growth and stagnation.

But the latest estimates by the trustees are expected to intensify pressure on both parties in Washington to move forcefully to shore up the two programs.

To read entire story, click here.