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Stephanie O Joy, Esq
Stephanie O Joy, Esq, Soc. Sec. Attorney
Category: Social Security
Satisfied Customers: 13568
Experience:  22+ years legal exp. - 12+ years owning/operating her own SSD Law practice.
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The amount of hype surrounding the revisions to the SS law

Customer Question

The amount of hype surrounding the revisions to the SS law has left us confused. We had originally planned to use the file and suspend strategy upon reaching full retirement age, but understand that that option has been closed as of 5/1/16. Here is our situation. My wife and I were both born in 1952, I in March, she in December. We are both retired, our income histories are very similar, and we both receive pensions. Neither receive any SS benefits. We have a 21 year old son who has Down syndrome who receives SS disability and medicaide benefits. Our primary concern is obtaining the greatest possible future benefit for our son. How does the new law affect us and what would be the most advantageous claiming strategy? Is there something we should do before the May 1 deadline?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Social Security
Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 1 year ago.

Hi, my name is***** and I am here to assist you. I am a social security attorney in my private practice – that is ALL I do. Please let me know that my post here is coming through for you by typing a quick reply.

Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 1 year ago.

OK, so you turn 64 in March of this year, while your wife will later turn 64 in December.

Just to confirm, do you mean your son receives SSI and Medicaid? (Not social security, right? He doesn't have a work record upon which he could collect social security, right?)

And just to confirm, you are interested in his greatest monthly amount should you pass? Or right now?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your response. Our son is able to work, but I doubt whether he will ever work full time, and in any event, his earning history is unlikely to ever match my wife's or mine, so, yes, we would like to maximize his benefit using one of our work records. He currently receives SSI and medicaid, however, medicaid is secondary to my family health insurance coverage. Specifically, my questions is concerned with the changes to SS law which took place last fall and eliminated the file and suspend strategy that my wife and I were planning to employ. I understand that this benefit will expire April 29, but that there are certain provisions still available for people born before 1954 if there file correctly before April 29. The question is is there something we should do before the April 29 deadline to maximize our son's future benefits, which will presumably be based on our work history?
Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 1 year ago.

OK, I understand. Unfortunately, you are not able to do anything related to the new law at this point. You can file your own and receive, but you can not file and suspend. You can not do the latter because you are not yet of full retirement age (FRA). That has always been the rule and continues to be the rule. What is unfortunate, and this IS the new rule, is that when you can finally suspend, all suspensions will be automatic blanket suspensions, thereby cutting off son's benefit, should he take a DAC (disabled adult child) benefit under your work record.

For those that turned 62 before the end of 2015, unrelated to this suspend rule of 5/1, if applicable they can still file a Restricted application for spousal benefits at their FRA (if eligible), while still deferring their own benefit, so that their own can grow to age 70. Not related specifically to 4/29/5/1, but it is part of the new law, that those under 62 will no longer have that option. It cost people about $50k on average from their retirement, unfortunately.

So, when you do eventually file for your own benefit, your son will be eligible for up to 50% of your primary insurance amount. Depending on what that is, it may not be very worth it to file earlier than you would have, so he can do this, particularly since he is getting SSI now. When you do file, he will switch to DAC, but I am not sure there is a rush for this, so if you were planning on deferring yours to age 70, that may still be desireable. Of course, you may OTHERWISE want to file at 66 (or one of you) so that your spouse, or you, who ARE grandfathered under the new law, can file for a RESTRICTED spousal from 66-70 while still allowing his/hers to grow at 32%. Have to do all the math to see the financial benefits and costs for a variety of scenarios, but those are the general rules you have to go by.

Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 1 year ago.

I hope this helps! My goal is to provide you with excellent and accurate service – if you feel you have gotten anything less, please reply back, I am happy to address follow-up questions.

Kindly rate me "excellent" when you are done. I look forward to assisting you in the future, should you have legal questions. Be sure to start future posts with "To ***** Esq., ONLY" if you want me to specifically answer it.

Sincerely, ***** ***** Joy, Esq.

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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your response. Ok, I understand that the file and suspend option is no longer available to us, but i am still wondering about filing a restricted application for spousal benefits when I/my wife turns 66 (FRA). Specifically, is there anything we need to do NOW (before 4/29) to assure that option is available to us in 2 years (assuming no further changes to the law).
Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 1 year ago.

File and suspend is available at FRA, but prevents dependents.

Yes, one of you can file an RA if the other one files for his own, triggering the right to spousal.

No, I see nothing you need to do now. You are both grandfathered for that RA, should you use it later. The "now" thing was for those who can suspend (those at least FRA), should do it now if they have dependents who will later want to file on their record WHILE the suspender wants to defer his own to 70.