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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Let's be honest. Social Security can be complicated. Forget all of the political aspects of the program, but if you've been putting money into the system, it affects you. The problem is that once you're eligible to start receiving benefits, it isn't as simple as filling out a form and collecting checks. There are so many different rules, income limitations, age requirements, cut-offs, that it can drive a person mad.

So, should you start collecting as soon as you're eligible, or should you wait a few years until you can receive your full benefit? How much money can you make in retirement before it starts affecting your Social Security? Are your benefits taxed? What if you have a spouse, how will their benefits impact you? What happens if I already have a pension? And have you heard people talk about WEP? These are all common concerns that will affect all of us, and if you just tried to get the information from the Social Security website itself, you'd end up more confused than when you started.

That's why I think this book should be in the hands of anyone who is serious about their finances. Even if retirement is still years away, you will still be facing many of these decisions even if the specific numbers change over time. The author does a great job of breaking down this complicated program into its important components so you can find out what's important to you and get the information you need. There's no silver bullet or magic number when it comes to Social Security, so this book will guide you and inform you so that you can make the best decision for you instead of relying on some generic advice you find online or hear on TV.

It's short, it's an easy read, and it's to the point without making things any more complicated than it needs to be.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on October 8, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This is an excellent review of various facts and decision-making components associated with the Social Security benefits. The book starts with some simple facts familiar to those who have been reading about the Social Security. But it quickly moves to advanced topics such as spousal benefits, widow(er) benefits, ex-spousal benefits, file and suspend tactics, and some others.

The book provides both some facts and the guidance for using these facts. For example, it describes the advantages of delaying Social Security but also lists the circumstances when people should take it earlier rather than later.

If you are interested in the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and Government Offset, there is information on that, too.

In summary, the book provides a lot of very useful information within small space. Great Job!
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on October 15, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Another excellent job by Mike Piper in explaining a complex subject in an easy to read, logical presentation of the important facts. Whenever I read any of Mike's work, I find myself starting to ask a question, only to have Mike's next words provide the clear answer. Many writers seem to present information from an academic point of view, whereas Mike seems to think through his presentation from the reader's point of view. I highly recommend this book for anyone trying to make informed decisions about the many options for starting, and maximizing, social security benefits.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on October 9, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This very good book covers most of the topics that the typical person (or family) needs to consider while making the major decision of when to claim Social Security retirement benefits.

The book is organized into bite-sized pieces that lets you easily focus on your specific situation (Single, working spouse, spouses with unequal earnings histories, non-working spouse, etc.). It explains the rational behind the decision making for the 'when to file' decisions.

This book has helped me tweak my strategy for when to claim and has made me much more confident about my decision. Well worth the price!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Social Security, a program that a majority of Americans depend on for all or at least a major part of their retirement funding has been modified and expanded many times since 1935, which has been a boon to the retired elderly but it has also created complexity and numerous decision points that can trip you up.

The Social Security Administration website has good reference material, but it tends to be both technical and wordy, with lots of jargon, and details for every possible but rare circumstance.

We are all extremely fortunate that Mike Piper is a gifted writer who can explain and organize information about complex subjects in an easy to understand and spare prose!

I have read all of Piper's investing books and several other books on Social Security, most notably the [also excellent] one by Jim Blankenship, which includes some additional details and covers a few additional subjects, including disability benefits, which is a separate and valuable benefit, though not used [fortunately!] by most of us.

The publication of this book has been eagerly anticipated by the readers of Piper's blog, Oblivious Investor, and it is everything we had hoped for.

My plan is to keep both the Piper and Blankenship Social Security books handy for reference, whenever my wife and I have a key date or decision point, like choosing when to collect my own or spousal benefits.

I have already ordered extra copies of this book to give to friends, family, and co-workers who are approaching retirement decision time. It will be a valuable supplement to Piper's other books on retirement and investing, many copies of which I have already given out. Because I have read [and re-read] most of the classic books on investment and retirement, I get many questions from people I know. Rather than give people too specific, or summary answers, *verbally*, I give them these books so that they can [hopefully!] refer back to them [and of course Piper is also way better than me at explaining things!].

Read this book before you apply for Social Security! It will help you make well informed decisions, and it could even save your retirement.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This book was a good basic primer on SS if you have not started research on the subject yet. For those people who have have done some level of reading/investigation into the topic it will not add much new information
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I am a pension actuary, and am very, very familiar with the Social Security system. I bought the book to help me translate the various benefits in layman's language for a class I am teaching this winter. The book is organized by topics into bite-size chunks with a very helpful summary at the end of each chapter. It won't answer ALL of your Social Security questions, but those questions quite likely would require consulting with an expert on the specifics of your question. It WILL help you identify your options, and the pros and cons, and will help you understand you options. Anyone contemplating retirement should read this book.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on February 2, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This book is written for a simple mind; pardon the phrase. The type is very large and the content, thus, is short; so the title Made Simple, which is exactly what this brief book is - simple. If one does not know how to use the internet or understand comprehensive information, either online or in other publications, this book might be a good starting place. However, it is information that is very easily found online. I most dislike the writing style. It is written at a junior high level I would estimate. But if one needs very basic information, and needs it downgraded to a very basic understanding, this book might be helpful. As for me, it was a thumb-through book that took me less than five minutes to see it covered information I already knew from basic internet research. I would not recommend this book if one already has a basic understanding of how social security works. This is a very primary-school type book.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Useless to the 40% plus of Social Security claimants who are disabled; this "complete" guide says flat-out on p. 3 that "I will not discuss disability at all"! Would have been nice if the sales pitch had mentioned that!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 8, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This short book explains the Social Security retirement program very clearly. After reading it, I understand the basics of the program and what I need to do to get signed up and make the most of my benefits.

However, much of the advice is centered around the idea of spending down my own savings first in order to delay getting Social Security, so that the monthly benefit will be more. I'm not comfortable with that idea, because, as we all know, the Social Security program is facing a tough future with major cutbacks. What if I spend down my savings, and then benefits are cut drastically just before I'm ready to start collecting them? Will I end up having to go back to work although advanced in years? I didn't feel that the author addressed this possibility, which I think is very real. I'm going to get my financial advisor's opinion on this before making any plans to do it this way.
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