How Maximize My Social Security Works

What you get when you buy Maximize My Social Security

Maximize My Social Security provides expert analysis, suggesting which benefits to claim and when in order to maximize your lifetime benefits. Tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars can be at stake when you negotiate Social Security’s enormously complex rules.

Comparing different what-if scenarios

Your Maximize My Social Security subscription lets you compare any number of what-if scenarios to your maximized results in order to account for different potential eventualities.

Comparing different fundamental variables

You can also change your maximized results to compare even more scenarios. These results remain constant if you only change your preferred benefit receipt dates. Changing other variables can change your maximized results, letting you compare virtually unlimited what-if scenarios.

Using your current benefit or PIA (Primary Insurance Amount) estimate to infer past covered earnings

You can use either your current retirement benefit amount or your Social Security PIA estimate to infer past covered earnings if you have no current, and will have no future, covered earnings.

We consider 11 types of benefits

  • Retirement Insurance Benefits
  • Spouse’s Insurance Benefits
  • Divorced Spouse’s Insurance Benefits
  • Adult Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits
  • Child In-Care Spouse’s Insurance Benefits
  • Widow(er)’s Insurance Benefits
  • Divorced Widow(er)’s Insurance Benefits
  • Child’s Insurance Benefits
  • Disabled Child’s Insurance Benefits
  • Surviving Child’s Insurance Benefits
  • Father’s and Mother’s Insurance Benefits

What we offer that others don’t

Many free as well as commercial Social Security calculators produce inaccurate results because they either request the wrong inputs or don’t request sufficient information to produce correct results.

Maximize My Social Security ask for the right inputs—all the right inputs and then, under its hood, its advanced algorithms consider thousands and often tens of thousands of alternative claiming strategies in suggesting the best strategy—the one that delivers the highest lifetime benefits. In the case of married couples, the program suggests joint claiming strategies since what one spouse does will affect what the other can do and vice versa. For widowed and divorced widowed households, the program suggests the best order in which to take widow(er) and retirement benefits. For divorced workers, the program considers when to take spousal and retirement benefits. And for households with children who qualify for benefits, the program incorporates if and when the parents should collect spousal with child in care as well as mother’s and father’s benefits.

The program goes far beyond any calculations that Social Security itself can make. For privacy and other reasons, Social Security's calculators are not set up to jointly optimize over the claiming decisions of your or any household.

Potential strategies

We consider the following strategies:

  • Delayed retirement to earn increased benefits
  • Sequencing and timing of retirement and spousal benefits
  • File and suspend strategies for married couples
  • Start/stop/restart receipt of benefits
  • Early retirement to enable child’s benefits and child in care spousal benefits
  • Early widow(er) start when deceased took retirement benefit early

Maximize My Social Security incorporates all major Social Security provisions and options

  • Adjustment of the Reduction Factor
  • Recomputation of benefits
  • Earnings test
  • Family benefit maximum
  • Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP)
  • Government Pension Offset (GPO)
  • Restricted application and deeming rules
  • RIB LIM when the deceased spouse was entitled to reduced RIB
  • Alternate widow(er)’s benefits when the deceased spouse died before age 62

What we provide

We provide tables summarizing the dates we recommend you begin receiving retirement, spouse’s, and widow(er)’s benefits along with your resulting lifetime benefits as well as tables with the same information for the dates you selected to begin receiving benefits.

We also provide year-by-year breakdowns using your selected and maximized dates. We include columns for your age(s), the benefits you are or will be eligible for, and the net total of these for each year. As the years progress down the rows, you can see just how much you and your spouse or partner will receive year to year, both with your what-if dates and with your maximized dates.

For married and partnered couples, the tables showing the Household Benefit Details are quite useful, allowing you to compare combined year-by-year breakdowns under each scenario.

Our calculations

Please see Maximize My Social Security: Inputs, Outputs, Strategies and Calculations for a detailed review of our highly accurate calculations (as well as for more about our inputs, and outputs along with the strategies we consider).

Presenting your total lifetime benefits in discounted present-year dollars

Total lifetime benefits are the discounted present value of your annual benefits and will always be less than the simple sum of all your undiscounted annual benefits. Discounting expresses the future value of your benefits in terms of their present value and accounts for real growth, or return on investment, enabling apples-to-apples comparisons of different series of future benefits.

Assuming a high maximum age of life

We ask you to enter your maximum age of life and we recommend selecting age 100. You can enter any age you want as well as different ages to compare what-if scenarios with different maximized results. We recommend a high maximum age of life because, while actuarial life expectancies are good for insurance companies, they are unlikely to be relevant to your own life.

Calculators that use average life expectancies instead of allowing customers to select—and change—maximum age of life chose ease of calculation over accuracy.

The information we request

In order to accurately tailor our recommendations—and make them actually useful—to you, we either request or may request your and your partner’s or spouse’s:

  • birthdate
  • marital status
  • marital history
  • children’s information, including disability status
  • non-covered pensions
  • which spouse will file and suspend at full retirement age
  • the amount of your retirement benefit if you’re currently collecting Social Security retirement benefits
  • the dates you would like to begin receiving retirement, spouse’s, and survivor’s benefits
  • your past covered earnings
  • your PIA estimate provided by Social Security or your current retirement benefit if we don’t already have it (we need one of these if you want to infer past covered earnings)
  • current and future covered earnings (both of which disallow inferring past covered
    earnings)
  • assumptions about inflation, nominal rate of return, maximum age of life, and any future changes to benefit rates

We make sure your information is secure

We secure your information in the following ways:

  • we don't require your real name, so you can run the program with any name you want
  • we don't require your Social Security number
  • we encrypt all communication between your browser and our servers, protecting against any form of electronic wire-tapping
  • we use strong passwords at the server level; while these are breakable by exhaustive search, any attempt to do so is detectable by our hosting service and would result in our server being shut off from that network
  • we have no known back doors into the servers, e.g., no telnet or ftp access

Individual household and professional licenses

The individual household subscription is $40 per year and the professional subscription is $250 per year. We do not renew your yearly subscriptions automatically.

Using our ESPlanner programs to account for investments and other assets

Our comprehensive lifetime financial planning download programs, Economic Security Planner at www.esplanner.com, incorporate federal and state taxation of your Social Security benefits. The programs take into account cash flow issues in deciding when to take your Social Security benefits.

They also let you explore different strategies for drawing down your 401(k), traditional IRA, Roth IRA, and other retirement assets. These decisions will impact the taxes assessed on your Social Security benefits.

We recommend you purchase Maximize My Social Security and then enter its suggestions into ESPlannerPRO, ESPlannerPLUS, or ESPlanner. These programs are designed to help you find safe ways, which include but go far beyond Social Security claiming decisions, to raise your household's sustainable living standard.