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Social Security Made Simple: Social Security Retirement Benefits and Related Planning Topics Explained in 100 Pages or Less Paperback – September 28, 2012
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Note: A newer version of this book is available (published February 2017). Please click "See all 3 formats and editions."
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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.
Update: As is his practice, Mike has updated the book for recent changes to the Social Security program. All his books are created electronically [self published] and printed on demand, which is great for us readers!
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.
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.