"The economic outlook remains more uncertain than usual, but we've gone over the numbers several times, and we're pretty sure it will be gone in about 20 minutes," said Richard Anderson, the fund's chief actuary, at a press conference this morning.
Several unanticipated factors contributed to the accelerated depletion of the fund, according to Anderson, including an unprecedented number of retired people living into their 90s and beyond. "Where are the death panels when you need them?" asked Anderson.
"Um ... Just a little Social Security humor there," he added when the comment was greeted with stony silence.
The numbers were confirmed almost immediately by a study conducted at the Pew Research Center. "We now realize it would have probably been a good idea to look into this sooner," said Pew Center spokesman Dr. Francis Spitznagel, noting that their researchers had been otherwise occupied with their study of superheroine breast size.
The announcement has led to concern and in some cases panic among elderly Social Security recipients. There have been reports of runs on cat food at convenience stores around the U.S., with lines of senior citizens in some cases stretching several times around the inside of the establishments.
"Luckily they have the Keno to keep them occupied," noted Radhee Nawwaf, owner of the Cumberland Farms on Route 46 in Moonachie, N.J.
As for Medicare's trust fund, originally thought to be solvent through approximately 2029, "that ran out a week ago Tuesday," according to Anderson.
"People will probably realize it when their Lisinopril prescriptions start to run out," Anderson noted.
Senior advocates expressed shock and dismay at the development, noting that millions of senior citizens rely on Medicare for their basic health care needs. "When we see a spike in back-alley colonoscopies, don't say we didn't warn you," said Brian Fincher of the senior citizen watchdog group Citizens for Retired Associates and Professionals.
"Er ... and when I say 'see a spike in back-alley colonoscopies,' I'm not speaking literally, hopefully," Fincher added.