Social Security Claiming Questions

Julia M. Carlson |

First, let me stress that no one who is currently collecting Social Security benefits will be affected by the prospective changes to rules determining who can file and suspend Social Security benefits to allow a spouse, dependent or disabled child to collect auxiliary benefits while the wage earner's retirement benefit continues to grow until age 70.
Second, the Social Security Administration has not yet issued any official guidance on the new rules. Consequently, industry experts are left to their own devices to interpret the effective date of the new regulations. President Obama signed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 into law on Nov. 2. The new regulations will take effect 180 days after enactment.

Until SSA issues an official pronouncement, I will assume that April 30, 2016, is the deadline for requests to file and suspend under current rules. (That means anyone who was born on May 1, 1950, or earlier can file and suspend under existing rules by April 30, 2016.)

Separately, anyone who is 62 or older by the end of 2015 (including anyone born on Jan. 1, 1954 or earlier) retains the right to claim spousal benefits only when they turn 66, allowing their own benefits to accrue delayed retirement credits of 8% per year up to age 70.

Q: My wife and I turn 66 in April 2017. Our plan was for me to file and suspend at 66 to trigger a spousal benefits for my wife while my own retirement benefit would continue to grow up until age 70. At 66, my wife planned to file a restricted claim for spousal benefits. Can we still do this?

A: No. Because you both miss the April 30, 2016, deadline, you both can’t file and suspend your benefits when you turn 66 in April 2017 and trigger spousal benefits for the other. But you do both meet the cutoff of attaining age 62 the end of 2015. This would allow one of you to file a restricted claim for spousal benefits once the other spouse began collecting Social Security.

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Julia Carlson is a registered Principal with, and securities are offered through, LPL Financial.  Member FINRA/SIPC. 

Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.