Bestselling Wall Street Journal author Kathleen Sindell, Ph.D. has taught and written about financial management for the last 20 years. Sindell’s latest book “Social Security: Maximize Your Benefits” is easy-to-understand and provides “just the facts” about getting the highest retirement... read more
This book is written for you, you and the thousands of folks like you who will soon be living on fixed incomes. Many of you are unaware of the Social Security retirement benefits to which you are entitled. The Social Security Handbook has 2,728 rules governing benefits. The Program Operating... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
This book is written for you, you and the thousands of folks like you who will soon be living on fixed incomes. Many of you are unaware of the Social Security retirement benefits to which you are entitled. The Social Security Handbook has 2,728 rules governing benefits. The Program Operating System (POMs) has thousands more. It is no wonder that you do not have a good understanding of Social Security. Frequently, because of a lack of insight you do not receive all the benefits you could receive. Often the problem is that you can only check on things you know about. Social Security representatives can answer questions but cannot provide advice about your personal financial situation.
Knowing the right questions to ask is critical to maximizing your Social Security benefits. To sum it up, this book is written for the people who need more information about the claiming strategies that provide the most benefits for their circumstances.
According to the Social Security Administration (SSA) in 2009, 72 percent of the 2.7 million new filers claimed Social Security retirement benefits early. In 2007 and 2008, 74 percent also filed early (this is the highest number ever recorded). In 1980, just 57 percent filed early and in 1970, 47 percent claimed benefits early.
For some filing for early retirement was the right choice. But, for most claimants, early retirement results in the loss of billions of dollars, in that they have not sought professional advice or researched optimal strategies to maximize their benefits. This book sets the reader on a path to learning about how to develop an optimal claiming strategy. The advantages and limitations of different claiming approaches are examined so that the reader can clearly see the risks and rewards of claiming at different times, working after full retirement age (FRA), and how longevity plays a major role in selecting the optimal approach.
EXTENDED TABLE OF CONTENTS
Why this book at this Time?
If you Need Help Implementing Your Optimal Claiming Strategy
How This Book is Organized
Summaries of the Chapters
Chapter One: Increasing Your Benefits by Selecting the “Right Application Date”
Social Security Benefits are a Retiree’s First Line of Defense
Your “Red Zone” Years
Who is Eligible for Social Security Benefits?
The Social Security Credit System
Getting Credit for Military Service
Downloading your Individual Social Security Statement
Making Corrections to your Earning’s Record
When Should you Start Social Security Retirement Benefits?
What are the Maximum Social Security Benefits?
What are the Minimum Social Security Benefits?
How Longevity Affects Your Social Security When You Should Apply for Social Security
How Early Retirement Reduces Benefits
The Cumulative Impact of Early Retirement
Taxation of Social Security Retirement Benefits for Early Retirees
Examples of Taxation on Early Retirement Benefits
Definitions of Earned Income and Early Retirement Benefits
Determining Your “Break-Even Age” if you Retire Early
Early Retirement and How it Affects your Spouse’s Benefits
Maximizing Your Benefits by Delaying Your Application
Delayed Retirement and How it Affects Your Benefits and Your Survivors
Calculating the Attainment of Your Retirement Age
The Timing of Full Retirement Age (FRA)
Day of the Month You Can Expect to Receive Benefits
Chapter Two: Increasing Your Benefits by Utilizing Spousal Benefits
Definitions of Spouse, Common-Law Spouse, Ex-Spouse and Widow(er)
Family Benefits for your Spouse, Child and Dependent Parents
Spousal and Ex-Spousal Benefit Amounts
Retirees and Eligible Children
Benefits for Dependent Parents
Dependent Children of Grandparents
Calculating the Family Maximum Benefit Amount
Family Members can be Entitled to More Than One Benefit
How Selecting the Right Application Date Affects Your Spousal Benefits
Social Security Benefits for Ex-Spouses
Calculating Early Spousal Benefits
Should You Claim Benefits Based on Your Own Record or Your Spouse’s Record?
Chapter Three: Optimal Claiming Strategies for Widow(ers) and Survivors
Traditional Unions and Eligibility for Survivor Benefits
Non-Traditional Unions and Eligibility for Survivor Benefits
Family Maximum Benefits (FMB) Amounts
Taxation, Working and Survivor Benefits
Defining Survivor Fully Insured and Currently Insured Benefits
Survivor Eligibility Requirements and Benefit Amounts
Claiming Options for Survivor Benefits
Analyzing Widow(er) and Surviving Ex-Spouse Claiming Options
Survivor Benefits if the Deceased Worker Never Filed for Benefits
Calculating Survivor Benefits for a Deceased FRA Worker
Determining Survivor Benefits for a Deceased Non-FRA Assessing Survivor Benefits for a Deceased Early Retiree
Optimization Strategies for Widow(er)s and Survivors
Chapter Four: Getting More by “Resetting” Your Application
Instructions for “Resetting” You Social Security Application
Chapter Five: Maximizing Your Benefits by Claiming Now and Claiming More Later
For Marrieds Only: The Restricted Application Approach
A Comparison of the Traditional and Restricted Application Approaches
Examples of Online Maximization Calculators and Programs
Chapter Six: The “File and Suspend” Approach to Maximizing Benefits (the “62 / 70 Split”)
“File and Suspend” Another Marrieds Only Approach
The File and Suspend Procedure Step-by-Step
The File and Suspend Strategy if the Spouse is Not Yet FRA
The Fine Print about the File and Suspend Approach
A Few Pointers Before Implementing the File and Suspend Strategy
A Comparison of the Traditional and File and Suspend Approaches
Combining the Restricted Application and the File and Suspend Approach
Chapter Seven: How Working After Retirement Can Increase Your Benefits
Key Benefits for Working after Your FRA
How Big of an Impact Will Working After Retirement Have on Benefits?
A Warning for Early Retirees Who Plan to Continue Working
How Much Can You Earn While Receiving Social Security Benefits?
Chapter Eight: What Could Reduce Your Benefits
Understanding Integrated Pension Plans
Defining Government Pension Offsets(GPOs) and Social Security Benefits
A Practical Example of How GPO Works
Calculating the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) Reduced Benefit
Limits on WEP Reductions
WEP, Retirement Planning and Maximizing Your Benefits
How to Monitor Changes in Social Security
Sources for Additional Social Security Information
Appendix A: A Comparison of the Restricted Application and File and Suspend Maximization Strategies
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