100 Social Security Myths Busted – Social Security

I’ve just released a new book. It’s called “Social Security: 100 Myths and 100 Facts.” You can get a hard copy of the book for less than 10 bucks at Amazon.com. You can get an electronic version of the book at barnesandnoble.com and other online booksellers.

Regular readers of this column may recall that I have written dozens of past columns debunking various myths about Social Security that are floating around on the internet and that get passed around, usually via emails, from one unsuspecting (and sometimes gullible) recipient to another. In most of those columns, I usually only have the space to take on three or four such myths. And every time I write such a column, I usually say something like this: “If I had the space, I could probably write a column debunking 100 Social Security myths.”

Well, I finally decided to make the space by putting all these myths — and more importantly, all the corresponding facts — into one easy-to-read book.
I think the best way to introduce you to the book is to reprint here the introduction that you’ll find at the very beginning of the new book. It goes like this:

“Social Security touches the lives of every American. We all have a Social Security number. Most of us work at jobs in which Social Security taxes are taken out of our paychecks, while others have their own businesses and pay self-employment taxes into the Social Security system.

Sixty-five million people are receiving monthly Social Security checks. They are getting either retirement or disability benefits, or they are the spouse or child of someone getting such benefits, or they are the widow, widower or child of a worker who has died.

The trillion-dollar funding of the Social Security program makes up about one-fourth of the entire federal budget of the United States. So, a government program that is so huge and that affects every one of us is bound to be the focus of many rumors, misunderstandings, half-truths and outright lies.

I have spent the last half-century debunking all those myths. And now, for the first time, I have compiled a list of the top 100 myths about Social Security into one easy-to-read and easy-to-understand guidebook.

Those myths can be broadly divided into two categories. One I will call “Political and Policy Myths.” These myths frequently have to do with how the Social Security program is financed.

But I suspect most people reading this book will be more interested in the second broad category, which I will call “Program and Practical Myths.” These are myths about the rules and regulations for each of the various kinds of Social Security benefits — essentially, who is eligible for which benefits, when they are eligible and how they go about getting those benefits.”

Here is just a sampling of the politically oriented myths that I take on in the first part of the book.

–Social Security is going broke. (Hint: the program has fiscal problems that are fixable, and those reforms will keep the system from going belly up.)

–Social Security is a Ponzi scheme.

–The government has stolen Social Security money and used it for other purposes.

–Illegal immigrants get Social Security benefits.

The second half of the book deals with program and policy myths and is further subdivided into sections clearing up myths about retirement benefits, spousal and widow’s benefits, benefits for children, disability benefits and Supplemental Security Income payments. There is also a small section on Medicare myths — although, as I always point out to my readers, I am a Social Security expert but not much of a Medicare expert.

Here is a sampling of the myths covered in the program and policy part of the book.

–My retirement benefit is based on my highest three years of earnings (or last five, or highest 10 — just pick your number).

–If I stop working, or work part time, before I start my Social Security, I will be messing up my future Social Security check.

–There are secret or hidden rules about Social Security.

–I can take reduced benefits from my spouse and later switch to full benefits on my own record.

–All disability claims are denied the first time around.

–Children can only get benefits from a deceased parent’s Social Security record.

My faithful readers will know that I have written another book about Social Security. It’s called “Social Security: Simple and Smart — 10 Easy-to-Understand Fact Sheets That Will Answer All Your Questions About Social Security.” While there is bound to be some overlap in topics covered in any two books about Social Security, there are important differences between my two books.

I recommend you read the “Simple and Smart” book if you are looking for a practical guide to how Social Security works, with important information about how and when to file for various kinds of Social Security benefits and tips for dealing with issues that crop up once your benefits start.

And you should read the “Myths/Facts” book if you are sick and tired of hearing and seeing all the Social Security mumbo-jumbo that’s out there, mostly polluting the online world, and if you’d just like to know the truth.

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