Social Security Questions? Ask a Social Security Expert
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This change probably does not affect you and is being hyped in the media but it is a small loophole that is being closed. It is not a magical lump sum that has to be elected and deals with "file and suspend" and spousal benefits. A spouse can only take the spousal benefit if the other spouse has elected to take their benefit. Another requirement is that the spouse must be at least age 62 or have a qualifying child in her/his care. By a qualifying child, social security means a child who is under age 16 or who receives Social Security disability benefits. Currently the law is changing and a "suspend and file" cannot be elected starting on may 1, 2016. In this circumstance at full retirement age (66) one could file and suspend their benefits and continue earning credits until age 70 and their spouse could elect to take the spousal benefit. The spousal benefit can be as much as half of the worker's "primary insurance amount," depending on the spouse's age at retirement. If the spouse begins receiving benefits before "normal (or full) retirement age," the spouse will receive a reduced benefit. However, if a spouse is caring for a qualifying child, the spousal benefit is not reduced.
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