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Two Social Security Strategies Are Going to Disappear

Saul Brenner, CPA, J.D., LL.M. 12.02.2015 | eVisor

The recently passed Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 established rules that place an end date on two popular Social Security strategies - File-and-Suspend and Restricted Application for Spousal Benefit.  Here is how they work:


File-and-Suspend increases the Social Security claiming options for married couples by allowing them to take advantage of spousal benefits and delayed retirement credits simultaneously.

Under the current law, a spouse cannot claim a spousal benefit unless the main beneficiary claims benefits first. However, once full retirement age (FRA) is reached (Age 66 for those born between 1943 and 1954), a beneficiary can file for benefits, but then immediately suspend receipt of those benefits until some future date. By doing this, his or her spouse can claim a spousal benefit and the main beneficiary can let his or her own retirement benefit grow at 8% per year.

In addition, if both spouses have reached FRA, it is possible for the spouse's own benefit to grow due to delayed requirement credits if he or she elects to receive free spousal benefits - also known as the Restricted Application option. The rule change applies to benefits suspensions submitted beginning in May 2016.

Restricted Application for Spousal Benefit

This strategy allows you to apply for Social Security benefits based on your spouse's record while delaying your own Social Security benefit.  In this way, you will get 50% of your spouse's benefit amount while continuing to earn delayed retirement credits of 8% a year up to age 70. You must meet the following criteria:

  • You have reached FRA;
  • You have not filed for your own retirement benefit before; and
  • Your spouse has filed for his/her own retirement benefit.  This can even be done in conjunction with the File-and-Suspend strategy.

Note: If you are 62 or older at the end of 2015, you can continue to have the option of restricting an application to spousal benefits only. However, those turning 62 in 2016 or later will have to claim all their benefits when they file.  

Questions? Contact your Berdon advisor or Saul Brenner, CPA, J.D., LL.M.  at 212.331.7630 | 

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