The folks at Sphinx Publishing, who put out a number of self-help books on various legal subjects asked me to take a look at their Social Security Answer Book by attorney Stanley A. Tomkiel III.
In general, I don't favor "do it yourself" law handbooks because most legal issues are very state-specific. This means that any book that purports to cover a broad legal subject, say divorce for example, is necessarily shallow.
But Social Security is a federal program that is the same for recipients, no matter where they reside.
Tomkiel's book is chatty, easily read, and surprisingly helpful. It presents its material in a Question and Answer format, but rather than state a principle just once, the author conveys the same information in several different ways, fashioned as responses to the questions of "regular folks."
As one of those "regular folks," this worked well for me.
I turned first to the Retirement section since that is what is always on my mind. Tomkiel's answers confirmed what I already partly knew--it will be simpler and I'll get more money if I do not take retirement at age 62, but wait until my "full retirement age" of 66 or beyond. The rules are more complex for those who wish to retire at age 62, but the author does a good job of clarifying the issues surrounding this choice.
The remainder of the book covers disability, spouses' benefits, children's benefits, and instructions on how and when to apply for benefits. The rules for divorced spouses are complicated but the Question and Answer format was quite useful as a tool to understand exactly what needed to happen in order to be eligible.
I found the short chapter on Medicare to be especially helpful. Tomkiel is careful to sort out the differences between Medicare and Medicaid, which many people lump together even though they are very different programs.
The book does NOT cover Supplemental Security Income which is the federal program covering disabled persons who do not have the necessary 40 quarters of work that would enable them to get Social Security benefits.
So, do I recommend the book? Yes.
But cheapskate that I am, I'd probably suggest to my local library that THEY buy it and let me check it out!