Dr. Helen

The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security

Do you ever get those statements from Social Security or log online to see how much you are entitled to at different years from 62-70? I have done so and learned that if I wait until I am 70, I am supposed to get $3114.00 a month. “Fat chance of that,” I often think. There is a National Review article circulating about a woman who was surprised (really?) to learn that her benefits might only be 77% of what she is supposed to get on the SS information form she is sent. She must not get out much.

I figured I would receive nothing and have planned financially with that in mind. That said, I decided to be proactive. My husband ordered a new book that might help many of us who were born after 1960 (or before) to get back some of the money we put into this (Ponzi scheme) system.

The book is called Get What’s Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security and is written by economics professor Laurence Kotlikoff, Philip Moeller and Paul Solman. I read through some of the chapters and found them fairly straight-forward, although there are 2728 core rules in the operating manual of Social Security and any number of mathematical formulas that make it worth one’s time to read up on how to maximize your own personal benefits.

From the description:

Learn the secrets to maximizing your Social Security benefits and earn up to thousands of dollars more each year with expert advice that you can’t get anywhere else.

Want to know how to navigate the forbidding maze of Social Security and emerge with the highest possible benefits? You could try reading all 2,728 rules of the Social Security system (and the thousands of explanations of these rules), but Kotlikoff, Moeller, and Solman explain Social Security benefits in an easy to understand and user-friendly style. What you don’t know can seriously hurt you: wrong decisions about which Social Security benefits to apply for cost some individual retirees tens of thousands of dollars in lost income every year.

How many retirees or those nearing retirement know about such Social Security options as file and suspend (apply for benefits and then don’t take them)? Or start stop start (start benefits, stop them, then re-start them)? Or—just as important—when and how to use these techniques? Get What’s Yours covers the most frequent benefit scenarios faced by married retired couples, by divorced retirees, by widows and widowers, among others. It explains what to do if you’re a retired parent of dependent children, disabled, or an eligible beneficiary who continues to work, and how to plan wisely before retirement. It addresses the tax consequences of your choices, as well as the financial implications for other investments.

The book has lots of examples of when and how to take Social Security depending on your individual situation along with that of your spouse, if you have one. It’s definitely worth a read if you are near retirement age or thinking about these issues. However, it’s only worth so much time to contemplate these formulas as the system cannot sustain itself the way things are going.

With that in mind, please take the following poll about my future chances of getting my benefits at age 70 ( I was born in the early 1960s):

Will Dr. Helen get $3114.00 monthly Social Security Benefits at age 70?

 
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