The Social Security filing rules are complex, and many of us make decisions about when to claim benefits that cost us dearly in lost lifetime benefits. This is a big problem, since the lifetime value of Social Security benefits significantly overshadows other sources of retirement income for most Americans.

But plenty of excellent help is available. Today, the market for Social Security advice includes a variety of software tools that can analyze your individual circumstances and retirement income needs, and generate recommendations for getting the most out of benefits. You can find some pretty good free tools – but I’d recommend spending a bit of money on this. For a very modest fee ($20 to $50) you can get a detailed set of options for coordinated spousal filings, and recommendations for coordination of benefits with portfolio drawdowns.

In The New York Times this weekend, I explore the best online software tools for optimizing benefits.