MONEY matters

Mark Zaifman's thoughts on money, global economic trends and politics

Is Your Retirement 10-Years Away or Sooner?

Mark Zaifman   |    Fri, Oct 23, 2015 @ 01:51 PM


If your retirement is 10-years away or sooner, you'll want to read, Get What’s Yours - The Secret To Maxing Out Your Social Security by Laurence Kotlikoff, Philip Moeller and Paul Solomon

One of the most overlooked elements of preparing for a successful retirement is deciding when to start drawing your Social Security. If you’re a married couple, the decision becomes even more complex.

Up until recently, the majority of people, usually by default, either started collecting Social Security at their full retirement age, early, at age 62, or waiting if possible until age 70. Simple on the surface right, three relatively easy choices.

Guess what. There are dozens of Social Security strategies that most people are unaware of. And remember, in the game of money, strategy is king.

Below are a few excerpts from the book Get What’s Yours - The Secret To Maxing Out Your Social Security that I hope entice you enough to read it.

“We’ve written this book to help people maximize the Social Security benefits they have earned and therefore, we believe, deserve to get. We three authors-Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff, journalist and aging expert Phil Moeller, and PBS News NewsHour economics correspondent Paul Solman-have spent years studying the system and making it intelligible to the public.”

“Why have we bothered to write this book? Because Social Security is, far and away, Americans’ most important retirement asset. And that’s not only true for people of modest means. Middle-income and upper-income households actually have the most to gain, in total amounts, from getting Social Security right. Toting up lifetime benefits, even low-earning couples may be Social Security millionaires.”

“So, this book is for nearly every one of you who’s ever earned a paycheck and wants every Social Security benefit dollar to which you are entitled-entitled because you paid for it. You earned it. It’s yours.”

“Social Security is the most complicated “simple” program you’re likely to encounter. This book contains minimal math. Rather it explains in the simplest possible terms the traps to avoid and basic strategies to employ in maximizing a household’s Social Security retirement.”

“We will point out Social Security’s windfalls and pitfalls-explain obscure benefits and more obscure penalties; benefit collection strategies like file and suspend (applying for benefits but not taking them)and start, stop, start (starting benefits, stopping them, and restarting them) We’ll also get into details of Social Security’s deeming rules (being forced, in some cases, to take certain benefits early at a very big cost)and related gotchas that can handicap you financially for the rest of your life.”

“We have embraced a model of human behavior based upon a competition among various internal “selves”. So our advice is to enfranchise one of them-the adult within; the long-term planner; the life preserver self. Keep reminding yourself: You are the guardian of your future self.

How was that for a good trailer? Hopefully, you’re enticed enough to put this on the must-read list.

For anyone you care about, please, turn them onto this book, it’s really that good, that important, that valuable, and believe me, they will be extremely grateful you did. As always, my suggestion is to pick this up from your local library. I’m sure there’s a waiting list, but unless you need it urgently, what’s the rush? And local libraries need all the support they can get.

To all my clients, you’re way off the hook as I got you covered. For a numbers/strategy geek like yours truly, this book is my candy store.

To all those with financial advisors already, this book is a must read if your advisor holds themselves out as a comprehensive financial planner or has chosen to work in a fiduciary capacity.

I receive great tips about books, articles related to financial planning or investing, latest tax strategies, you name it; from my clients on a regular basis and I’m very appreciative for that. It’s that collaboration aspect of my work that I love the most. So if you’re not in the habit of emailing your advisor suggestions or inquiring if they have read this book for example, give it a try. Helping them will help you.

Bottom line: Put simply, these three wise authors have ‘cracked the code’ on how to unlock the mystery of claiming Social Security benefits. Read it or listen to the audio book version or make sure your advisor has read it. As the saying goes - just do it!