Get what’s yours – a book review

It’s without a doubt: social security one of the most important assets for working class people and retirees. Great improvements in healthcare have increased in our lifespans, adding even more to its significance.

In trying to make social security fair for all, social security has become more complicated than ever before. The result? People who ought to benefit from the social security have left out roughly $10 billion in claims!

Get what’s yours – The secrets of Maxing Out Your Social Security is a book by Laurence Kotlikoff, Philip Moeller and Paul Solman that was written to help people understand social security in simple terms. One great advantage of Get what’s yours is that it provides people with ways in which one can maximize the benefits from their retirement.

The Authors

The authors come from highly relevant backgrounds: Laurence, an economist of Boston University; Philip, who is an expert on aging; and Paul, economic correspondent for a TV Show came together to explain the intricacies in a non-intimidating way.

Sure, one could simply read the 2728 rules for social security to understand the program. You’d also have to read thousands of supplementary explanations. Get what’s yours breaks everything down into easy to understand, bite sized chapters.

The Content

The authors ask their readers not to depend on the social security administration heavily for getting their information. Simply because they the social security administration is not very efficient or clear in about their terms.

In one of the chapters in Get what’s yours, there are discussions of a person being able to claim an additional amount of $50,000. Details of such overlooked benefits are present from chapter 2 to chapter 7.

These sections cover details that most of us are unaware of; such as benefits for survivors and spouses. The book goes as far as explaining the differences one is subject to when marital status changes or whether you should choose early retirement or put it off for a later date. There are enough details for financial advisors to be content about, yet the simplicity means people like you and me are not lost mid-way through.

Other sections cover the fundamentals of social security, calculations and advantages. They also provide some common strategies that one can follow to gain the most out of their social security.

An example of such a strategy would be: many people claim health care benefits much earlier than they actually should. If you are a healthy individual, you might want to hold on to later stage before claiming as you maximize your social security for when you truly need it.

The Tone

One of the biggest advantages of Get what’s yours is the tone in which it is written. Very smartly put conversational tone, makes you feel as if you are part of the discussion. The writers share several examples from their own lives. It must be noted at this point that the book should be considered as reference rather than steps to be followed.

Who It’s For

Having gone through few other personal finance books, Get what’s yours stands out. Most books usually scratch the surface of social security and not delve any deeper. The book covers situational advice, be it for couples, divorcees, disabled people, or parent of dependent children who recently retired. Think of it as a one-stop guide for the population at large.

However, we feel that the demographic who can get the most out of this book is the baby bomers who are close to retirement and could use the added clarity of social security to help in their planning.

One Key Takeaway

Get what’s yours helps you understand the fact clearly that social security is more of an insurance than an investment. This insurance helps you reap benefits till you are alive. When you understand consequences of your investment decisions or retirement or social security, it helps you take better decisions.


In the later part of Get what’s yours, the authors cover the “Secrets” and “Gotchas”. These are more obscure tactics which will help you extract even more out of your social security. The downside is that you simply cannot jump into the later part of the book to understand it.

The authors have done a very good job at providing granular level of detailing which can fit in for different people. The book also refers to several tools, additional information and calculators which will help you for social security.

Our Opinion

Get what’s yours is a simple and narrative take on the complex social security system. It provides you information as to how you can best optimize your retirement funds. The book deserves the accolades it has received and definitely doesn’t surprise us that it’s a best seller.