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Get What’s Yours

The Secret to Maxing Out Your Social Security

By Laurence J. Kotlikoff, Philip Moeller and Paul Solman
12-minute read
Audio available
Get What’s Yours: The Secret to Maxing Out Your Social Security by Laurence J. Kotlikoff, Philip Moeller and Paul Solman

We all dream about the day we can retire and benefit from a lifetime’s hard work. Social security should make that possible, but its rules are so byzantine that investing in risky stocks seems like an easier deal. Get What’s Yours (2015) walks the reader through America’s perplexing social security system and explains everything you need to know to get the guaranteed benefits you deserve.

  • Anyone entitled to social security benefits
  • People looking for retirement planning tips
  • Married couples planning a divorce

Laurence Kotlikoff is the president of a financial planning software company called Security Planning Inc. and professor of economics at Boston University. He is also the author of multiple bestsellers.

Philip Moeller is a journalist and research fellow at the Center on Aging & Work at Boston College. Get What’s Yours is his second bestseller.

Paul Solman is a long-time business and economics correspondent on PBS’ NewsHour and a professor at both Yale University and Gateway Community College.

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Get What’s Yours

The Secret to Maxing Out Your Social Security

By Laurence J. Kotlikoff, Philip Moeller and Paul Solman
  • Read in 12 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 7 key ideas
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Get What’s Yours: The Secret to Maxing Out Your Social Security by Laurence J. Kotlikoff, Philip Moeller and Paul Solman
Synopsis

We all dream about the day we can retire and benefit from a lifetime’s hard work. Social security should make that possible, but its rules are so byzantine that investing in risky stocks seems like an easier deal. Get What’s Yours (2015) walks the reader through America’s perplexing social security system and explains everything you need to know to get the guaranteed benefits you deserve.

Key idea 1 of 7

Social security is an essential income source for countless people but its system is mired in confusion.

If you look back a hundred years in many countries, reaching old age meant economic strife, because people who were forced into retirement lost their incomes and struggled to survive. Those who didn’t have family or friends to support them were faced with frightening prospects, even starvation. So why don’t we experience this problem any more? Because of two little words: social security.

At present, social security has expanded into a massive enterprise. In 2014 it paid over $812 billion in benefits while accommodating 180,000 visitors for consultations and 450,000 phone calls daily. But isn’t social security just for poor people? Absolutely not, it’s for every tax-paying citizen who invested in it and everyone who is entitled to should reap its benefits.

Why?

Because income from social security is safe. You could lose your home to a mortgage default, your investments could plummet in value, but social security is guaranteed to retain value. For instance, over the two decades between 1991 and 2011, the average US investor actually incurred a net loss after accounting for costs and inflation. But over the same period, social security grew – it’s designed to increase with inflation.

So social security is a safe investment, but there’s a problem. It can be confusing and people often find themselves perplexed as to what they’re entitled to. For example, the social security system abides by 2,728 core rules. For married couples alone, the formula for calculating the benefit of each spouse consists of ten complicated mathematical functions! Not just that, but social security staff aren’t exactly the most helpful. In fact, they can only provide you information, never advice.

So how can you be certain to get what you’re entitled to?

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