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Get What's Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security (The Get What's Yours Series) Hardcover – February 17, 2015

4.1 out of 5 stars 1,444 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Getting smart about Social Security can put tens of thousands of extra dollars in your pocket. With that in mind, start by reading, Get What’s Yours. . . . The book translates—into often-entertaining English—the many convoluted rules that make up the Social Security program. . . . [Does] a great job of helping you make sense of, and get the most from, Social Security. . . . Invaluable.” (Glenn Ruffenach The Wall Street Journal)

“An indispensable and surprisingly entertaining guide for anyone who is retiring or thinking of retiring with all of the Social Security benefits they’ve earned.” (Jane Pauley)

“Choosing when to take Social Security is one of the biggest decisions of your life. By doing it right, you can add hundreds of thousands of dollars to your lifetime income and leave more money for your spouse as well. This great book tells you how . . . and it’s funny, too!” (Jane Bryant Quinn, author of Making the Most of your Money NOW)

“Social Security is the biggest source of retirement income for many Americans . . . that just means that [Get What's Yours]'s tricks and tips will be ever more relevant. . . . Given that there are 2,728 core rules and thousands more supplements to them according to the authors, it pays, literally, to seek out a guide.” (Ron Leiber The New York Times)

“I love this book! Seriously! Who could ever guess that reading about Social Security could be this entertaining? And if you think you know enough about the subject, you would be wise to think again. Smartly written by an all-star, financial expert dream team, the engaging, down-to-earth prose makes Get What’s Yours the definitive guide to maximizing what is, for many, the most important retirement asset by far. From determining the best age to claim (hint: it’s not what you’ve been told) to figuring out the intricacies of spousal benefits to avoiding the ‘gotchas’ that can reduce your checks, this must-read guide is truly that. And don’t be surprised if you actually enjoy it!" (Beth Kobliner, author of Get a Financial Life)

“[Goes] a long way in educating the public and financial advisers about this important lifetime benefit. Get What's Yours is a fun read for advisers with a slightly snarky tone that puts the absurdity of the program's more than 2,800 rules into perspective.” (Mary Beth Franklin Investment News)

"The Social Security system has 2,728 core rules. You can't be expected to learn them on your own, and you can't depend on Social Security staff members to guide you through them to make the right decisions. Use a financial planner with expertise in Social Security, or read and reread an excellent book such as Get What's Yours, to make the decisions that will provide you and your family with the most benefits." (Elliot Raphaelson The Chicago Tribune)

“[A] can’t-miss guide to the system. . . . Clear enough for even the most intimidated reader, with a concluding cheat sheet helpfully summing up the book’s suggestions. The authors’ palpable fervor to help readers get back what they’ve paid will energize readers to claim what is rightfully theirs.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Just what we need: a clear explanation of how Social Security works—and how to get the highest benefits—without reading all 2,728 rules of the Social Security system.” (Library Journal)

About the Author

Paul Solman has been Economics Correspondent for the PBS NewsHour since 1985. He is also Brady-Johnson Distinguished Fellow in Grand Strategy at Yale University, teaches at Gateway Community College in New Haven, and has served on the faculty at the Harvard Business School and his alma mater, Brandeis University.

Product Details

  • Series: The Get What's Yours Series
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (February 17, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476772290
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476772295
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,444 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,991 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David Wineberg TOP 500 REVIEWER on February 17, 2015
Format: Hardcover
Given the choice of learning 3000 pages of Social Security law and tens of thousands of regulations, or having two front teeth pulled without anesthetic, most would choose the latter, if only because it's over quicker. Get What's Yours understands this. It presents the basic background, basic facts, basic tips, and even the basic SSA form, in an environment of real scenarios. The asides are cheerful or acidic, as appropriate, and it mitigates the confusion by constantly hammering at the basics. At first I thought it annoying, but slowing down, I realized I needed to see it all again, in action, to help it sink in. It also means you can go right to the section that concerns you, because the foundation points will be there (again).

This book is necessary for three reasons: Social Security is not intuitive, and sometimes makes no sense at all. Two, Americans act against their best interests, leaving all kinds of money on the table. Three, there is usually a "however" with Social Security rules.

Worse, Social Security is now up to three million requests every week, but Congress keeps cutting back budget, staff, hours and whole offices. Combine that with the complexity factor, and the authors conclude you cannot trust what Social Security advises. Great.

The way we go after Social Security says two things: Americans are poorer than they pretend, and they don't know how much they're giving up. Only about 3% wait until age 70 to claim, where the figures show a dramatic, peak difference (76%) over claims at 62, when the biggest group files - for the least amount offered. As an aside, there is an annual survey that always says the same thing: nearly 50% of Americans couldn't raise an emergency $2500 in 30 days, not from savings or even from friends and family.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Right off the bat, GET WHAT'S YOURS makes it clear how important it is to understand what benefits you deserve--and the pitfalls of making the wrong choice. Using an example couple, the 3 authors note that if that couple "make the right decisions, they can increase the value of their lifetime Social Security "asset" by more than $400,000." In other words, it's really critical to understand the rules.

Through simple charts, the authors point out that millions of Americans are making a BIG MISTAKE by claiming benefits too early. Although the system is supposed to be "neutral," that is not actually the case, the authors point out. A huge percentage of the populace is making the wrong decision. Probably, they point out, is that "lots of people need whatever money they can get as soon as they can get it."

So, it's important to understand the key rules that fit your situation.

I have always been confused about what the rules were for Social Security benefits. When should I file? How much will I get? Will I be taxed? I was especially confused about the spousal rules, and this book answered, in great detail, exactly what I needed to know. Besides explanation on spousal benefits, there are also chapters to cover special situations, such as parent benefits.

I found the most valuable chapters the "Secrets" chapters: Chapter 16, "50 Good News Secrets to Higher Lifetime Benefits," and Chapter 17, "25 Bad News Gotchas that can Reduce Your Benefits Forever." If there are just 2 parts of this book that you read--read these two chapters! They are really important.

The authors point out that Social Security employees are officially encouraged to sign you up and get your signature whenever you come in to an office and inquire about filing for benefits.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really needed the information in this book. Although I tell myself I didn't need it repeated four or five times over, I probably did. Each time I read a familiarly phrased core principle, I had a more thorough understanding. The authors apologize for the repetitiveness here, but repeat themselves they do. Perhaps they're trying to make sure those of us who have historically made bad financial decisions get the Social Security choices right. (And that is the main reason I am reading this book now, at this point in my life, as a 50-something. Having failed to save any money, I can at least gain a good understanding of the benefits of my fall-back retirement plan which is Social Security alone, without embellishment.) So be prepared for some not-so-subliminal behavior modification efforts tucked into these pages. Given the numbers of us who act impulsively, according to the authors' statistics, perhaps we do need to be whacked with this information repeatedly and hard.

This book is also for people who think they know everything there is to know about Social Security choices. The authors spend a great deal of time debunking lovingly held misconceptions that could cost you a lot of money. They also point out that the standard advice handed out by Social Security workers on the phone and online is usually wrong and there is no liability on their part for being wrong and there's no recourse on your part (short of paying back the benefit) if you get it wrong because of Social Security's own advice.

The authors also point out that we all think we're smarter than we are. So you can drop this tendency into your next insufferably boring lunchtime conversation with your much dumber colleagues -- it's called 'illusory superiority.' Makes you sound smart when you say it, doesn't it?
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