How To Max Out Your Social Security

February 18, 2015 6:00 AM

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

Photo Courtesy of Simon & Schuster


Get What’s Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security was written by an economist and two journalists. Laurence Kotlikoff (@Kotlikoff), an economist at Boston College, writes broadly about Social Security, including a weekly column called “Ask Larry,” which appears online at the PBS NewsHour, where his friend, co-author and long-time economics correspondent Paul Solman (@PaulSolman), works. The third author, journalist and aging expert Philip Moeller (@PhilMoeller), writes about Social Security for Money Magazine. Out now from sister company Simon & Schuster, Get What’s Yours is available wherever books are sold. Visit GetWhatsYours.org for more.

Social Security pays out more than $800 billion a year in benefits to nearly 60 million people. It is the nation’s dominant retirement program, and the primary source of income for older Americans.

However, many people claim fewer Social Security benefits than they’re entitled to, claim them at the wrong time, or simply don’t claim them at all. The result, is that people are leaving billions of unclaimed dollars on the table every year, and dooming themselves to retirements that could be much brighter, at least in financial terms.

Get What’s Yours clarifies these rules and provide readers with the tools they need to make better use of Social Security. The book distills the major lessons about claiming Social Security into three broad rules:

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Be Patient

You can often get Social Security’s best deal by waiting as long as possible to collect your benefit. Monthly retirement benefits can be 76 percent higher if claimed at age 70 than age 62. Yet most people claim early and fewer than 2 percent wait until 70.

Related: 5 Helpful Tips For A Long Life

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Get All Of What’s Yours

Few people are aware that Social Security offers not just retirement benefits but disability benefits, spousal benefits, divorce benefits, survivor benefits, benefits to children of retirees and, in some cases, benefits to retirees’ parents. Spousal benefits can equal half of the other spouse’s full retirement benefit. A widow or widower can collect ALL of their late spouse’s retirement benefit. And divorced spouses each may be able to collect half of their former spouse’s full retirement benefit – a better deal than if they were still married!

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Get The Timing Right

People often are eligible for multiple Social Security benefits at the same time. Getting the most out of Social Security involves careful attention to filing for one benefit at the right age and, for married couples, working together on the best way to maximize the sum of both spouses’ benefits. For example, one spouse can collect a full spousal benefit while allowing their own retirement benefits to grow to their maximum amounts and claiming them later. Most people who file for Social Security before age 66 are hit with early claiming reductions; disabled people can file as early as 62 and will receive NO early claiming reductions. Widows and widowers can file for survivor benefits as young as age 60, not 62.

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Get What’s Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security was written by an economist and two journalists. Laurence Kotlikoff (@Kotlikoff), an economist at Boston College, writes broadly about Social Security, including a weekly column called “Ask Larry,” which appears online at the PBS NewsHour, where his friend, co-author and long-time economics correspondent Paul Solman (@PaulSolman), works. The third author, journalist and aging expert Philip Moeller (@PhilMoeller), writes about Social Security for Money Magazine. Out now from sister company Simon & Schuster, Get What’s Yours is available wherever books are sold. Visit GetWhatsYours.org for more.

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