You probably heard that changes in the law now affect the way you file for certain benefits.
These changes place limits on when voluntary suspension and reinstatement can begin for you and your family members who might also be entitled to benefits on that record. This is not the demise of “file and suspend.” It’s still one of your best tools for boosting your Social Security benefit after you reach your full retirement age.
The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 made changes to the Social Security claims filed by married couples. The law affected an unintended loophole primarily used by married couples to gain more money.
If you’re full retirement age or older and apply for Social Security retirement benefits, you can suspend your benefits for any amount of time up to age 70. You may do this to earn “delayed retirement credits,” which result in a higher benefit payment when you turn 70 or when you request reinstatement of benefits, whichever comes first.
Under the new law, when you submit a request to suspend your benefits to earn delayed retirement credits on or after April 30, 2016, you will no longer be able to receive spouse’s or widow(er)’s benefits during this voluntary delay period. In addition, if you suspend your benefit, any benefits payable to your spouse and children on your record (except for a divorced spouse) will also be suspended for the same time period.
There is an exception. A request for voluntary suspension will not suspend a divorced spouse’s benefit. Also, your divorced spouse can receive benefits on your record during this voluntary delay period.
Remember, you can still plan and make the most of your retirement benefit by filing and suspending. These new rules don’t prevent you from doing what’s best for you and your family. We have a wealth of retirement information at www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/retire.
For more information and answer to your questions about these changes in the law, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/retire/claiming.html.
Marcus Geiger is Social Security district manager in Gallipolis, Ohio.