I recently had the privilege of reading Mike Piper’s most recent book in his excellent … in 100 Pages or Less series, entitled Social Security Made Simple. Just as with his other books in the series (Can I Retire?, Investing Made Simple, Taxes Made Simple and several others), Mike manages to distill the most important points about the topic into an easily-understood, easy-to-read, 100 pages.
The layout of the Mike’s book is great for someone just learning about this topic, starting from basic situations that most folks will face, and working through to the more complicated situations. The last section of the book addresses “when to file” strategies, including some unique ways to consider the value of your potential benefits in context of your financial life.
When I read through the book it took me just over an hour to read – granted, I have a bit more than a passing knowledge of the topic – but I would expect that most folks could get through it in a couple of hours at most. The point is, with something as incredibly complex as Social Security you shouldn’t try to learn everything about it (unless you’re advising others). Mike’s book gives a very good rundown of the salient points for a basic understanding which should be adequate for most folks.
If you want to give yourself a head start on what to do about filing for Social Security benefits, do yourself a favor and get a copy of Social Security Made Simple. I think you’ll be glad you did.