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Social Security For Dummies, 2nd Edition

Book Description

Praise for Social Security For Dummies:

"Social Security for Dummies is a must read for people of any age who want a comfortable retirement. Jonathan Peterson does a great job of explaining this complicated system and helps you understand how to get the most from the benefits you've earned. The difference between a smart claiming strategy and a dumb one can cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars, so you'll want to invest in this book." —Liz Weston, personal finance columnist and author of The 10 Commandments of Money

"This is your go-to book on Social Security. Chock-full of useful tips, easy to use, and well organized, it answers all your questions about Social Security." —Steve Vernon, author of Money for Life: Turn Your IRA and 401(k) Into a Lifetime Retirement Paycheck and CBS MoneyWatch commentator

"Social Security for Dummies is indispensable for anyone who wants to get the best possible deal from Social Security—and that means all of us, young and old, because everyone will need Social Security benefits in this era of disappearing pensions and dwindling savings. Strategies for single people, for married couples, for survivors, for divorced people: You can find expert advice on all these subjects and more in this easy-to-understand guide to a very complex subject." — Bob Rosenblatt, editor of HelpwithAging.com and Senior Fellow at the National Academy of Social Insurance

About the book:

Take the mystery out of Social Security and maximize your benefits when you retire

Social Security For Dummies is the definitive resource to navigating the often-complex world of Social Security retirement benefits and the U.S. Social Security Administration. If you're nearing retirement age, or assisting someone who is, this guide will show you how to avoid common pitfalls, determine when you should claim your benefits, and figure out how much you can expect to receive each month.

This newest edition provides updates to relevant dates and resources as well as an in-depth look at policy changes that will affect those about to retire. Packed with information that will help you make decisions that will maximize your financial well-being, this great resource makes it easy to understand everything you need to know quickly and easily.

  • Understand new Social Security Administration policies and what they mean for you

  • Determine how to incorporate Social Security into your overall retirement plan

  • Get answers to common questions

  • Find resources to use when you're stumped

  • With Social Security For Dummies, you can take charge of your retirement and successfully navigate the U.S. Social Security Administration.

    Table of Contents

      1. Cover
      2. Introduction
        1. About This Book
        2. Foolish Assumptions
        3. Icons Used in This Book
        4. Beyond the Book
        5. Where to Go from Here
      3. Part I: Getting Started with Social Security
        1. Chapter 1: What Social Security Is and Why You Need It
          1. Understanding What Social Security Means for You
          2. Appraising the Value of Social Security
          3. Understanding How You Pay for Social Security
          4. Getting the Most out of Your Social Security Benefits
          5. Getting in Touch with the Social Security Administration
        2. Chapter 2: A Breakdown of Benefits
          1. Bringing Security to Old Age: Retirement Benefits
          2. Surviving the Loss of a Breadwinner
          3. Paying Your Bills When You Can’t Work: Disability Benefits
          4. When the Need Is Great: Supplemental Security Income
        3. Chapter 3: Deciding When to Start Collecting Retirement Benefits
          1. Paying Attention to Your Full Retirement Age
          2. Looking at Life Expectancy When You Claim Benefits
          3. Considering Your Spouse When You Claim Social Security
          4. Recognizing the Potential Payoff of Working Later in Life
          5. Putting It All Together: The Right Time to Begin Collecting Benefits
        4. Chapter 4: Protecting Your Number and Securing Your Card
          1. Getting a Social Security Number
          2. Managing Your Social Security Card
          3. Protecting Yourself by Protecting Your Number
      4. Part II: Taking the Plunge: Filing for Social Security
        1. Chapter 5: Signing Up for Benefits
          1. When to Apply for Social Security Benefits
          2. Where to Apply for Social Security Benefits
          3. How to Apply for Social Security Benefits
          4. How You Get Your Money: The Check Is Not in the Mail
        2. Chapter 6: Determining How Much You’ve Earned
          1. Your Social Security Statement
          2. Social Security Calculators
        3. Chapter 7: Navigating the System
          1. Being a Smart Consumer of Social Security
          2. Getting the Answers and Help You Need
          3. Life Happens: Keeping the Social Security Administration in the Loop
          4. Setting the (Earnings) Record Straight
          5. Halting Your Retirement Benefits
          6. Recovering a Lost or Stolen Social Security Check
          7. Getting Dinged for an Overpayment
          8. Getting Social Security in a Global Economy
          9. Registering a Complaint with the Social Security Administration
        4. Chapter 8: When You and Social Security Disagree: The Appeals Process
          1. Reconsideration: Taking Your First Step
          2. Going to an Administrative Law Judge to Solve Your Problem
          3. Knowing What to Expect from the Appeals Council
          4. Taking Your Claim to Federal Court
      5. Part III: Who Benefits and When
        1. Chapter 9: Spousal Benefits: Watching Out for Each Other
          1. Who Qualifies and Who Doesn’t
          2. How Much You Can Expect to Get
          3. How to Maximize Your Benefits
        2. Chapter 10: Family Benefits: Who Gets What
          1. Defining Who’s in the Family
          2. Identifying the Benefits Family Members Are Eligible For
          3. Looking At How Having a “Child in Care” May Affect Your Own Benefits
          4. Understanding the Family Maximum
          5. Counting on Kids’ Benefits When Parents Live Apart
          6. Managing Benefits on Behalf of a Child
        3. Chapter 11: When You Can’t Work: Social Security Disability Benefits
          1. The Two Types of Disability Benefits
          2. How Social Security Defines Disability
          3. How to Make Your Case
          4. What to Do If You Get Turned Down
          5. What Happens to Your Benefit If You Can Go Back to Work
      6. Part IV: Social Security and Your Future
        1. Chapter 12: Enrolling in Medicare
          1. Understanding the ABCs (And D) of Medicare
          2. Qualifying for Medicare
          3. Signing Up for Medicare
          4. Paying Premiums
          5. Getting Hit with Late Fees
          6. Buying Extra Insurance: Medigap
          7. Getting Financial Help If You Need It
        2. Chapter 13: Working in “Retirement”
          1. The Pros and Cons of Not Retiring at Retirement Age
          2. The Earnings Test: How Your Payments Are Calculated When You Work
          3. When You Go Back to Work after Retirement
          4. Special Considerations for the Self-Employed
          5. Uncle Sam Giveth and Taketh Away: How Benefits Are Taxed
        3. Chapter 14: Shaping a Financial Future You Can Live With
          1. Envisioning Your Life with Social Security
          2. Preparing for Life on Social Security
      7. Part V: The Part of Tens
        1. Chapter 15: Ten Myths about Social Security
          1. Myth: Social Security Is a Ponzi Scheme
          2. Myth: Your Social Security Number Has a Racial Code in It
          3. Myth: Members of Congress Don’t Pay into the System
          4. Myth: Social Security Is Going Broke
          5. Myth: The Social Security Trust Funds Are Worthless
          6. Myth: I’d Be Better Off Investing in Stocks
          7. Myth: Undocumented Immigrants Barrage Social Security with Illegal Claims
          8. Myth: When Social Security Started, People Didn’t Even Live to 65
          9. Myth: Congress Keeps Pushing Benefits Higher Than Intended
          10. Myth: Older Americans Are Greedy Geezers Who Don’t Need All Their Social Security
        2. Chapter 16: Ten Reasons Young People Should Care about Social Security
          1. If You’re Lucky, You’ll Be Old Someday
          2. Your Parents Will Be Old Even Sooner
          3. You’re Paying into the System Now
          4. You Benefit When Social Security Keeps People out of Poverty
          5. You May Need Benefits Sooner Than You Think
          6. Social Security Ensures That Time Doesn’t Eat Away at Your Benefit
          7. Social Security Benefits Are One Thing You Can Hang Your Hat On
          8. The System Works
          9. The Alternatives Are Worse
          10. Life Is Risky
        3. Chapter 17: Ten Choices Facing the Country about the Future of Social Security
          1. Whether to Increase the Earnings Base
          2. Whether to Cover More Workers
          3. Whether to Raise Taxes
          4. Whether to Cut Benefits
          5. Whether to Modify the Inflation Formula
          6. Whether to Raise the Full Retirement Age
          7. How to Treat Women More Fairly
          8. Whether to Divert People’s Taxes to Private Accounts
          9. Whether to Create a Minimum Benefit
          10. Whether to Give a Bonus for Longevity
      8. Part VI: Appendixes
        1. Appendix A: Glossary
        2. Appendix B: Resources
          1. Social Security
          2. Medicare
          3. AARP
          4. Other Sources
        3. Appendix C: Play the Game: You Make the Choicesto Strengthen Social Security
      9. About the Author
      10. Cheat Sheet
      11. Connect with Dummies
      12. End User License Agreement