With the number of older Americans filing for bankruptcy on the rise, here are three books to help you understand what is driving the Social Security debate. One details the scope of the issues, while another guides readers on how to maximize their Social Security benefits. Plus, a satirical novel imagines a wacky solution to the impossible problem.
RUNNING ON EMPTY
How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It
By Peter G. Peterson
239 pp. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. (2004)
In this book, the conservative Peterson, a former Secretary of Commerce in the Nixon administration and chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations, outlines the state of the American economy, writing that “we can no longer afford denial” about our aging society and an impending Social Security crisis. He argues that a society has a collective responsibility to long-term fiscal prudence and suggests reforms to the Social Security system, including “to change people’s behavior in positive directions — for example, to get them to plan ahead, to save more, and to live healthier lives.”
GET WHAT’S YOURS
The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security
By Laurence J. Kotlikoff, Philip Moeller and Paul Solman
336 pp. Simon & Schuster. (2015)
This practical guide to navigating the Social Security system cuts through the fat (there are more than 2,500 rules associated with the benefit) and covers everything from how to file for social security to the strategies for claiming the highest possible income. The writers advise on when to retire and note the most common benefits, as well as how to take advantage of others that are lesser known, like the divorced spousal benefit. This book would be useful for anyone approaching retirement.
By Christopher Buckley
336 pp. Twelve. (2007)
In this novel, Cassandra Devine, a young blogger that belongs to “Generation Whatever” (millennials), offers a controversial solution to the imminent Social Security crisis: financial incentives for Boomers who agree to kill themselves when they reach 70 rather than retire. Called “voluntary transitioning,” the plan spreads quickly among 20-somethings and becomes the leading issue in a presidential campaign, with a cast of characters taking up either side of the cause.