Helpful Articles

 Social Security


These are articles that were written to help develop ideas for journalists that work for The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Kiplinger’s, Smart Money, AARP, newspapers, financial web sites, etc. They’ve been used as a source of quotes for these publications.



Delay Collecting Social Security and Your Finances Will Win Big.  It’s a Better Bet than Real Estate.


Why So Many People Still Fail to Maximize Social Security Benefits


The best retirement investment for any market condition


Calculate the best age to start Social Security with pencil and paper.

This easy-to-use calculation lets you compare retirement income if you start

Social Security at different ages considering your current savings.


If you love your spouse, you’ll wait to claim Social Security


Social Security’s hidden Medicare penalty


How should the government change social security—to preserve its viability?


How to profit from Social Security’s quirks.


Why it pays to delay Social Security.  Scaling up the article’s example to the full-retirement-age benefit of many people shows that they can get over $20,000 inflation-adjusted additional annual income for life.  It’s counterintuitive and very unpopular though for people who are unable to delay gratification for a longer term benefit.  This is the same logic that leads to too little saving for retirement.


What will surprise people the most when they retire? Here is my response to a Wall Street Journal editor who asked the question:


5-30-13.  Will Social Security be there when I need it?  This Hebeler article appeared in the MarketWatch section of the on-line edition of the Wall Street Journal.  It examines useful but politically difficult funding solutions, stealth solutions, and concludes with those things that almost certainly will happen as the Social Security funding shortfall worsens while the population ages.


This brief article published in The Wall Street Journal shows my views on what I believe is the biggest mistake retirees can make:


Should the Social Security Trust invest in stocks? My views with link to rebuttal from The Wall Street Journal's


Will we benefit from special provisions of Social Security?


Maximizing Social Security Benefits.  This article explores a number of ways to get far more out of your Social Security benefits.  It shows results from (1) simply filing at an older age, (2) suspending payments after having already started, (3) filing at 66 and then suspending, and (4) filing a restricted application.


The Benefits of Social Security Alternatives. This may be the most important article that pre-retirees can read. It gives new perspective to the alternatives of retirement ages, starting ages for Social Security, ages to die, and the alternatives of Normal, File & Suspend, or just plain Suspend.   Also covers both fixed and COLA pensions.


Should I Suspend and Restart my Social Security Payments?  It’s currently popular now to promote stopping Social Security payments and restarting as late as age 70 to reap the benefits of an 8% increase each year of delay.  This article investigates when that is, and when it is not, a wise strategy.


Should an early retiree take Social Security at 62?  There is a huge difference between the various alternatives available for Social Security--and what's good for a single person might not be best for a married couple.  Also, see the benefits that can come from paying back your previous Social Security payments and restarting at a later time.


When to start social security. Whether to start social security at 62, 70 or some age in between is a critical decision that can make a huge difference late in your life.  This article shows what may be best for you.


Are Personal Retirement Accounts for You?  President Bush is advocating Personal Retirement Accounts in lieu of part of younger people's Social Security. This article shows that it may be a very difficult sales job.


Private Accounts for Social Security.  The federal government is now looking at private accounts as a way to replace part of Social Security benefits and thereby reduce the government's future Social Security obligations. This article shows that it is unlikely such an alternative would help low-income workers unless it was beefed up with costly extra spousal benefits and some kind of insurance for lifetime payments. It suggests that if stocks are such a good thing for private accounts, why aren't they even better for the Social Security Trust itself?


Plan on Less Social Security and More Tax.  Two types of solutions to the Social Security Trust shortfall problems were offered at the 2004 Social Security Administration conference on The Future of Social Security. Since there is about $100,000 shortfall for every U.S. family in the discounted value of projected benefits less Social Security taxes, the resolution requires painful responses.


Start Social Security at 62, 66, or 70? (PDF File)*.  Even if you retire early, the popular mantra that you should start taking social security at the earliest possible age may be dead wrong. My wife and I work with widows in their eighties who are in the 50% of the people that live longer than the mortality tables. These widows now realize what a mistake it was to take social security early.


Social Security and Inflation (PDF File)*.  Social security is supposed to be adjusted to cover inflation every year. The fact is that it doesn’t come close to covering retiree’s inflation. Retirees experience greater need for medical attention, especially as they age. That medical attention comes at a very high cost, and that cost is increasing much faster than the inflation experienced by the goods used to measure the inflation index.


Social Security at Age 62?  If you are serious about this possibility, read this article first. You likely will change your mind when you hear about some first-hand experiences.


Deferred Social Security likely to be better than an annuity.  This article compares deferred Social Security benefits with immediate inflation-adjusted annuities using an example with current quotes and provides the basis for your own personal evaluation.