Then, when the older spouse turns 70, he or she can claim the retired-worker benefit, which has been growing by 8 percent per year. And when the younger spouse turns 70, he or she can convert the spousal benefit to his or her own retired-worker benefit, which also has been growing by 8 percent a year.
Social Security experts, online calculators and software products can help identify the claiming strategies that would yield the biggest benefit for you, factoring in life expectancy, tax brackets and marital status.
As pensions disappear and life expectancies rise, said Kotlikoff, retirees can ill afford to let guaranteed income pass them by.
"Most people get extremely bad advice by asking neighbors or calling the Social Security Administration," he said. "Or they try to make this decision on their own.
"With 10,000 baby boomers retiring every day, if even 1,000 of them get it wrong, that would be terrible," Kotlikoff added.