You can view your Social Security statement online. The Social Security Administration has stopped mailing paper Social Security statements to most workers to cut costs. If you want to view your complete earnings history, taxes paid into the system, and get a personalized estimate of your expected payments, you'll need to create a Social Security online account and log in to view your statement. It's a good idea to periodically check your statement to make sure your information is being recorded correctly and to make decisions about when to claim Social Security. "I recommend that everyone get in the habit of checking their online statement each year, around their birthday, for example," says Michael Astrue, the former commissioner of Social Security. You can also now sign up to receive benefits, change your direct-deposit information, and access a benefit-verification letter online.

The trust fund has a projected deficit. The assets in the Social Security trust funds are expected to be exhausted in 2033, according to the Social Security Board of Trustees' annual report. After that, incoming tax revenue will provide enough income to pay out about three-quarters of promised benefits. "If nothing else is done, certainly payments would be reduced dramatically to just what the tax rolls were bringing in each year, but we can always increase the Social Security tax," says Blankenship. Possible changes that might correct the problem include tax increases, benefit cuts, or a combination of the two approaches. The trustees found that an immediate payroll tax increase of about 1.3% for workers and employers or an immediate benefit reduction of 16.2% would both correct the projected deficit and restore the program to solvency for the next 75 years.

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