Double-Check Your Social Security Calculations

Are you maximizing your payout?

by Kate Ashford and Dana Hudepohl
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Making the wrong move can saddle you with a reduced payout for the rest of your life. But the Social Security Administration might be the worst place to go for answers, says Laurence Kotlikoff, professor of economics at Boston University and president of Economic Security Planning, which makes financial-planning software. Kotlikoff, who answers questions about Social Security from visitors to his website,, says he has frequently pointed people toward provisions of the Social Security manual that even the administration wasn’t aware of. (For $40, you can run your numbers using his software.) “I’ve seen as much as a $200,000 difference in lifetime benefits,” he says. Or do the calculations for free at or

Photo: Robert_S/Shutterstock

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