Philip Moeller '68

Philip Moeller ’68
Philip Moeller '68

A guide to navigating your Social Security benefits may not sound like scintillating reading, but Get What’s Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Securityby Laurence J. Kotlikoff, Philip Moeller ’68, and Paul Solman rocketed to the top of Amazon’s bestseller list a few weeks after its publication.

The book helps people figure out if they are taking advantage of all the benefits to which they are entitled. “You have been forking over payroll taxes your entire working life; you deserve to get what you paid for; and it’s the law,” the authors write.

The idea for the book came during a conversation between Solman, a PBS NewsHour correspondent, and Kotlikoff, a Boston University economist, about the arcane rules of spousal benefits. Though Solman is a financial reporter, he hadn’t realized that he and his wife could be collecting an additional $50,000 over four years if one of them applied for Social Security at 66 and then suspended the retirement benefit, while the other applied for just spousal benefits until both reached 70. The pair saw a need for a book that would sort out some of the more than 2,000 rules governing Social Security and brought in financial journalist and aging expert Moeller as co-author.

The book, now in its ninth printing, explains early benefit reductions, delayed retirement credits, and divorcee spousal benefits. It also examines the financial benefits of not retiring, how gay couples can claim benefits, and how to approach Social Security benefits if you are widowed.