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on November 20, 2013
This book was very easy to understand so that my wife and I can
begin to seriously think about our Social Security filing options. The
many examples and filing comparisons made things perfectly clear.

Social Security will not be vital to our own retirement, but we sure
want to make certain that we get every dollar that we are entitled to.
We are now re-thinking the plans we had prior to reading this book
and will contact the author and have him run our numbers on his
special S.S. calculators as well as do some income tax planning (so
we don't pay more taxes than need be).

I especially liked the chapter about the 3 risk buckets and the 3 tax
buckets. Every adult in America should read that chapter even if they
are decades away from retirement.

Get this book BEFORE making any decisions on claiming your Social
Security benefits!
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on October 17, 2013
Wow, I never realized how only 4% of Financial planners really understand the intricacies of Social Security Income Planning when we get to retirement age! Having this detailed step by step guide by a CFP (Certified Financial Planner) who is an expert in this field is a treasured jewel of a find. What I liked most was he gives a step by step example of what it would look like if you're divorced or married and if you take the early pay out option or wait til later. That surprised me! I realized I would only be receiving 70% of my check FOREVER if I started the program when I was 62 compared to 67. This book has all the nuts and bolts, graphs and history to back up every bit of his detailed explanations. VERY HELPFUL INDEED!
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on February 2, 2014
This book is outstanding in its clear explanations, examples, and up to date information. But it leaves me wondering why the author, after writing such a great book, skipped paying a good editor a few hundred dollars to fix numerous simple errors (missing words, 'with' in place of 'will', 'is' in place of 'if'). I am a published author, and I've read hundreds of books. This is the worst example of non-existent editing in a published book I have ever seen. The several dozen errors leaves me with a bad impression of an otherwise excellent book. Hire an editor.
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VINE VOICEon July 24, 2014
I suppose the most off-putting thing about this book is the horribly patronizing tone throughout - that makes it hard to read but it gets worse. What organization the book has is obscured by the conversational narrative that I suppose is meant to make it a friendlier read but has the effect of drowning each fact in tons of fluff. And some of the facts are simply wrong. Mr. Orr reminds us, e.g., that the average life expectancy when social security began was 65 - which is true but irrelevant. It was so low, compared to now, because of the much higher infant mortality rate, not because old folks were dropping dead 20 years earlier. The actuaries in 1935 knew this, the actuaries now know it, but it's a silly myth usually dragged out of the closet by people who are trying to prove that social security is unsustainable. An expert in this field knows better - but I guess he felt it made good copy. Alas, this book is truly painful to read and contains inaccuracies and myths. Keep looking - I am.
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on September 2, 2014
In general this is a very helpful book. (as the author notes, there are a number of good books available on the topic of SS). Other reviewers have covered the benefits (and desperate need of editing) of the book. I will focus on one chapter of the book. The author is quite proud of the chapter describing the Earlys, Waites, and Bests. This chapter illustrates the federal tax advantages that might be gained by delaying benefits as long as possible. However, the author does not point out that the value of this strategy will decline, almost to the vanishing point, over the coming years. The strategy is based on making SS as large a part of your income as possible, because the federal government only taxes up to 85% of SS benefits based on certain income limits. The problem is, those income limits were established many years ago and were deliberately not indexed. So the dollar amounts, which very few folks would have hit when established, have never been increased. Over time, almost all middle class folks who have made any preparation at all will blow right past those upper limits. Under current law, 15% of the SS benefit would still escape federal tax, so there will still be some benefit (and many states don't tax SS, so there is benefit there). So, while there will remain some modest benefit to this facet of delayed SS benefits, that chapter overstates it's likely future value. (In addition, it seems very likely that at some point, that 85% cap will be eliminated, and most middle class folks will see their entire SS check taxed as regular income (at the federal level). So, maybe a minor quibble, but worth pointing out.
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on October 17, 2013
As an immigrant to the US, the Social Security system confuses me. This book was a real eye-opener at explaining how it works, and what I need to be aware of in order to plan for my retirement. Orr clearly explains all the issues relating to how and when you can elect to take your retirement benefits, and what factors affect how much you will receive. It's essential to make the right choices, or you could end up losing out on tens of thousands of dollars right when you need it most.

Orr sets out in detail the different strategies available. It's not exactly an easy read - after all, he's dealing with federal financial regulations, and as always, the devil is in the details. However, if you're smart enough to have figured out that you need to start thinking about your long-term finances, then you're smart enough to follow what he's saying. Or at least, if you decide to go and see a financial advisor after realizing just how complex this all is, you'll have some idea what they're talking about.

Perhaps the most important thing is to understand how long you will need to draw money for. You can often elect to draw more money at an earlier, but then your benefits drop off later. That's great at first, but it could land you in real hardship when you're much older. You need to assess your life expectancy and figure out realistically how long you will need to continue drawing money. If you're married, then it's even more complicated, since you have to consider your spouse's earnings as well. Orr goes into spousal benefits, survivor benefits, tax issues, and why you might want to consider suspending your benefits.

If you're concerned about how you will manage financially in your retirement - and you probably should be - then this is well worth reading.
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on February 19, 2014
Lots of good information but I am too close to SS age to make any major changes in my plan. None of the SS books I have read offer any unique solutions but there is good information regarding methods to tweak the system to maximize your entitled benefits.

I gave it three stars because I didn't get anything new out of it and because there were numerous typos and other editing errors that annoyed me (kindle edition).
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on July 22, 2014
First the good news: the author knows his stuff, and a reader can learn a lot from him about how Social Security works. However, the book is painfully, awkwardly written. This begins already with the Table of Contents, which does not indicate page numbers for the various chapters. But the reason for that is that the book is not paginated--no page numbers at all! Therefore there would be no way to provide an index. There is no bibliography or other documentation of the sources cited in the text. Instead of each new chapter beginning on a new page, each new chapter follows hard on the heels of its predecessor. It's hard to see an overall organizational plan for the book. At the level of sentences, the basics of English composition are violated left and right. E.g., all sorts of things are placed between quotation marks when they don't need to be; ellipses are inserted randomly on almost every page; possessive and plural forms of nouns are regularly mishandled; etc.

I'll quit there. Again, the author knows his stuff, but I would have appreciated the book so much more if it had been better written.
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on July 21, 2014
Social Security is a complex mess, something only the federal government can create and pretend to operate. Orr's book supplies an adequate analysis of the basics of this system and discusses how to get the most income from social security. Many examples are helpful in following the factors that determine whether your social security will be higher or lower during retirement years.

Unfortunately some typos and bad grammar get in the way of understanding the text. This is especially true for his examples, as they are terse to begin with, making a few of the examples difficult if not impossible to follow. He should employ a copy editor in the next edition of the book.

The book comes without pagination and without an index. This makes things hard to look up; for example, I wanted to re-read one of the sections on spousal benefits but had to flip through the book several times before I could find the right section. Also, Social Security comes with a lot of acronyms, such as AIME, FRA, COLA, and PIA. As I don't know these terms--after all, I did buy the book to learn this stuff--an index or a glossary would have helped enormously. I spent too much time trying to look up the meanings of these acronyms.

Finally, the book is another shameless infomercial in which this author makes extravagant claims of his superior ability to help clients better than other financial planners, including CPAs and CFPs. Maybe this is so, but more likely it is hot air. However, the book delivered enough substance to make it worth while, so I won't ding him too much for the self-promotion.
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on October 18, 2013
I never thought I would say I enjoyed a book about retirement... but I actually did enjoy this. It is clear, insightful and was packed with information I never knew before. In fact, I honestly did now know one had to think about social security and that we actually had to plan for it. If you or your parents were born before 1960 and are beginning to think about retirement - this book is a must-read to guide you through your social security benefits and how to make the most of it. Knowledge is power and in this case could save you a lot of money.
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