Book Review

What’s the Deal with Social Security for Women?

Author Marcia Mantell’s new book provides a roadmap for advisors to educate and support their clients

 Review by Susan Bumstead Chanley

Ms. Chanley, a Boston-based retirement marketing communications consultant, is a principal with Crystal Communications Group. Connect with her by e-mail:

10/21/2019 — After presenting and talking to thousands of women across the country, Marcia Mantell, a 30-year veteran of the retirement financial industry, founder of Mantell Retirement Consulting, blogger at, and author of What’s the Deal with Retirement Planning for Women?, has seen first-hand just how challenging it is for women to understand and plan for a long retirement and specifically, how to make good decisions around their Social Security benefits.

Her goal with this new book, What’s the Deal with Social Security for Women?, is to help women (and men) understand how claiming their Social Security retirement benefit is a critical financial decision and how to do it right.

The difference between this Social Security book versus the many others out there is Mantell’s book goes beyond the formulas and calculations behind the program. Rather, the book becomes a powerful tool for advisors to educate and support their Boomer clients (especially their women clients) in planning for retirement income and Social Security.
The uniqueness of Mantell’s style lies in the personal stories of a dozen real Boomer women showcased in her book. Whether these women are married, divorced, widowed or single, the approach of the book aims to take some of the mystery out of this complex yet critical retirement income source in ways that are more relatable to most women. It opens the door and reveals how Social Security works regardless of a woman’s life’s journey.

How Best To Serve Your Clients?

Mantell also has a way to make even the most “not-so-exciting” retirement income topics informative and engaging for the reader, which advisors should read and think about how best to serve their clients. Most important, the book unveils how critical it is to make smart decisions about when to claim Social Security. The author clearly explains how women receive significantly less income if they claim at age 62 versus their Full Retirement Age (FRA) between ages 66-67. Most women and men know they can “grab and go” at 62, but what are the ramifications for this tactic? To answer this question, Mantell offers in relatable terms how much more a person can collect by waiting until at least the FRA and why. What’s the Deal with Social Security for Women? helps women learn the facts about Social Security, how it works and why it is an important building block, but not the only one, in creating a sound retirement income for many years to come.

Social Security is a challenging topic for many women, particularly Baby Boomers, due to two key elements:

  1. The ongoing media hype and hoopla that serves to agitate and frustrate real women rather than help them navigate an already complex income source; and,
  2. In a majority of Boomer households, the husband is more likely to manage the finances and retirement investing.

Consequently, many women are in the dark about their money for retirement and the important role Social Security income can play income while both spouses are alive, and when she might become the surviving spouse. This book addresses those situations head on. Mantell uncovers Social Security secrets for women before they claim their benefit and dispels many of the myths floating around out there. In addition, she strongly encourages women (and everyone) to set up their “my Social Security” account on the account. It only takes a few minutes to do which gives each person their personal statement and an inside view of their own work history.

a powerful tool for advisors to educate and support their Boomer clients (especially their women clients) in planning for retirement income and Social Security...

The book is set up in three distinct sections:

  • Part 1 covers Social Security Basics from a bit of history to how benefits are calculated;
  • Part 2 explores the 4 Social Security claiming strategies for women who are married, divorced, widowed, or single; and,
  • Part 3 includes more Social Security must-knows and a final baker’s dozen of take-aways to help women stake their Social Security claim wisely and well.

Mantell organizes the book so that readers (and their advisors) can skim through the chapters to find the information and examples most relevant to them. They can learn the history around Social Security whose key architect in 1935 was, in fact, a woman, Frances Perkins. The back-story of Social Security provides a perspective about the ‘not-so-level playing field’ facing women today. The book also includes general information everyone needs to understand the program as well as the claiming strategies that pertain to them. Just as important, readers can jump to their specific category to learn how their benefit will be determined and read about real women who are in similar situations.

The most important goals of the book are to help readers discover how important it is to:

  • Make smart decisions about when to claim Social Security.
  • Receive more monthly income by claiming after age 62.
  • Learn the facts about Social Security’s future.
  • Balance time and money when deciding when to retire.

The history of the Social Security program and the critical role women played in creating and improving the program provide much needed perspective for all women. However, the number one question Mantell receives at conferences, seminars and training sessions is “Will Social Security even be there for me?” While there is the potential for some changes to come, Mantell is confident there is sufficient funding for the program to pay its obligations for decades into the future. She also repeatedly emphases that Social Security was never meant to fully replace anyone’s paycheck. Social Security has always been a modest safety net for workers’ retirement years which is another reason for women, and men, and their advisors must think strategically about claiming this critical retirement income source.


What’s the Deal with Social Security for Women is available via Amazon and Kindle. You can learn more by checking out which includes a variety of helpful action plans that can easily be downloaded. In addition, Advisor Magazine released an in-depth article by Marcia Mantell, “Women, Planning & The Reality of Longevity” in October, 2019 that readers should review.