On November 2, 2015, President Obama signed into law the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. Although originally intended to raise the federal spending and debt limits through 2017, the bill also ends two popular and well-used Social Security retirement benefit claiming strategies, “File-and-Suspend” and “Restricted Application.”
Under “File-and-Suspend”, the higher-earning spouse would file for Social Security at full retirement age, and the other spouse would begin collecting Social Security benefits based on the higher-earning spouse’s account. The higher-earning retired spouse would then suspend their collection of Social Security benefits to receive 8% delayed retirement credits. After April 30, 2016, the “File-and-Suspend” strategy will no longer be available.
The “Restricted Application” Social Security claiming strategy for spousal benefits ended on January 1, 2016. However, there is a special transition rule for anyone age 62 or older as of December 31, 2015. Under this strategy, the higher-earning spouse chooses to receive just the benefits of the lower-earning spouse while his or her own benefits build delayed credits. Going forward, the Social Security Administration will presume that all married individuals will claim Social Security for the highest benefit available, based on the largest spousal account.
Click here for additional information from HBE Wealth Management regarding the elimination of the two strategies outlined above.
Although fewer optimized claiming strategies are now available, there may still be a financial advantage to delaying Social Security benefits. In some cases, we have seen a difference in lifetime Social Security benefits of over $100,000 for individuals who utilize an “optimized” claiming strategy versus a “normal retirement age” claiming strategy.
At HBE, we have a unique Social Security analysis tool which can help us proactively identify the best benefit-claiming approach for your specific situation, allowing you to more effectively meet your retirement projections and legacy goals. If you (or your spouse, if applicable) are approaching the age to file for Social Security benefits, we would welcome the opportunity to further discuss these services with you and help you plan for a successful retirement as soon as possible. For more information, please contact us at (402) 423-4343.