Social Security Questions? Ask a Social Security Expert
My name is***** and I will be helping you with your question today. This is for informational purposes only and does not establish an attorney client relationship.
It is a gimmick. The changes made in the bipartisan act are being hyped in the media but it is only a small loophole that is being closed. It is not a magical lump sum that has to be elected or banned benefits that you will lose. It deals with "file and suspend" spousal benefits and the "restricted benefit". Let me explain, 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. Also the "restricted benefit" is being eliminated. If you turned age 62 be the end of December 31, 2015, you would be grandfathered in and at full retirement age you will still be able to restrict your benefit. This means that if you or your spouse would like to elect to take only the spousal benefit as opposed to your normal retirement benefit, you can restrict your election to ONLY the spousal benefit. This would allow you to collect the 50% spousal benefit while still gaining credits to your normal retirement benefit from ages 66-70 (the credit increases your benefit approximately 8% per year). After the law changes, at full retirement age, you would have to take the higher of the spousal benefit and your retirement benefit. You can no longer choose just the spousal and let your normal retirement benefit grow while still take the spousal benefit.
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