Too many people today have insufficient retirement savings and are counting heavily on Social Security to get them through their golden years (if they retire at all). Yet these same people often do not know the best methods of maximizing their Social Security benefits.
On the other end of the scale, higher-income individuals may consider Social Security as an afterthought or not expect it to be there at all by the time they retire. However, one good medical crisis or similar economic catastrophe could put them in a position where their Social Security benefits are vital. Besides, they did pay into the system — why should they not receive benefits in return?
All income groups could benefit from the new book Get What’s Yours, co-written by Laurence J. Kotlikoff, Philip Moeller, and Paul Solman. The group has expert credentials in the field. Kotlikoff is the founder of Economic Security Planning, Inc. (the creator of MaximizeMySocialSecurity.com) and an economics professor at Boston University. Moeller is a contributing retirement writer to Making Sen$e and Money, and Solman covers economics/business for PBS’s NewsHour.
The trio manages to take a subject as dry as Social Security benefits and impart useful information with engaging humor. The first seven chapters cover general principles. The remainder of the book is more situation-specific; you can hop around and focus on the chapters more relevant to your situation. Single people, widowers, divorcees, gay couples…whatever your circumstances are, you can find advice relevant to your situation. Even financial planners may benefit from the more detailed Social Security advice.
Get What’s Yours stresses that everyone’s position is different, and the strategy that works for your neighbor or your boss may not work for you. Your overall needs and expenses, state of health, and intended retirement lifestyle can make a profound difference. However, the book covers general principles that apply to everyone, including the ones below.
- Defer Benefits When Possible – With planning, you may be able to defer benefits until up to age 70 and enjoy a 76% increase compared to a draw at 62. Couples may have several useful strategies such as “file and suspend” to stretch out their benefits.
- Consider Collective Benefits – Social Security covers not only your benefits but also other benefit forms including spousal/ex-spousal benefits, survivor benefits, and disability benefits. You may qualify for an alternate form of benefits that is superior to the benefits based on your work history.
- Timing is Everything – People tend to apply for reduced benefits at age 62 due to the lack of alternatives. Claiming benefits early carries large lifetime penalties and reductions negating the point of making Social Security last throughout your retirement. It is also possible to leave money on the table by waiting too long. Understand the consequences of poor claim timing.
One chapter contains the 25 worst “gotchas” traps in the byzantine Social Security rules that people often fall into, out of either ignorance or bad advice. It is likely that not all of the workers at the Social Security administration have a full grasp of the more complex elements.
The end of the book lists the fifty biggest secrets of Social Security that can help you maximize your benefits — and it is a bit frightening that there are even 50 such secrets at all — but do not cut right to the chase. Read the whole book to get the full effect and the best advice. You will be surprised that a book on such a dull subject can keep you entertained and informed at the same time.Buy Get What's Yours on Amazon