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lev-tax, Tax Advisor
Category: Social Security
Satisfied Customers: 29923
Experience:  Taxes, Immigration, Labor Relations
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I am 64 years old and took social security at 62. My wife

Customer Question

I am 64 years old and took social security at 62. My wife turned 62 on Nov. 13, 2015. She is planning on retiring on July 1, 2016. Can she get spousal benefits now and then switch and collect her own social security at age 66?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Social Security
Expert:  lev-tax replied 1 year ago.

Yes - she may choose to receive spousal benefits if spousal benefits are higher that her own.
But because she is below her full retirement age - her benefits will be permanently reduced - regardless if she will be eligible for spousal benefits or her own benefits.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
How can spousal benefits be higher than her own? My understanding is that she can "File and suspend" or "File and restrict" her benefits. She would get a check for 33% of mine ($500) and then she could switch back to her own social security at age 66. Isn't this true?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Isn't she grandfathered-in to the "File & Suspend" strategy because she turned 62 in 2015
Expert:  lev-tax replied 1 year ago.

"File and suspend" - means not receiving benefits - if the person want to receive social security benefits - that is NOT "suspend"
Spousal benefits are based on the spouse's working record. As a spouse the person may receive 50% of benefits of the spouse - which may me more or less than benefits based on person's own working record.

In some situations the spouse might not have working record at all or have very low own benefits - so potentially spousal benefits might be higher - but that depends on specific individual circumstances.

If the person is eligible for both benefits - based on her own working record and spousal benefits - - see here

How Much Will I Receive? If you qualify for benefits on your own record, we will pay that amount first. If the benefit on your spouse’s record is higher, you'll get an additional amount on your spouse’s record so that the combination of benefits equals that higher amount.

If your spouse will choose to RECEIVE benefits - and will start before her full retirement age - her benefits will be permanently reduced.

"File and suspend" strategy means - that you may apply for benefits and suspend your own benefits - aftre that your spouse will be eligible to receive spousal benefits based on your working record,. while your benefits will continue to grow.

But based on your information - that is not your intention. Moreover the new law went in effect last year and eliminated that option.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I spoke with a lawyer recently that said, the new law goes into effect on April 16, 2016 and applies to people that turned 62 during 2015. Are they wrong? What about "File and Restrict?"
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Did you forget about me???
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I hope that you're not charging me for this inaccurate information!
Expert:  lev-tax replied 1 year ago.

All information provided is correct and accurate.

If your intention is to have both of your receiving social security benefits - that is neither suspend nor restrict....

The change in the law mainly affects married couples who want to use the file-and-suspend strategy and maximize there social security benefits .

Here is the article which explains possible benefits and recent changes in the Social Security regulations

Under the current law when you reach the FRA (full retirement age) - you may file a restricted application. The restricted application allows you to delay your social security benefits and keep them grow till age 70 and you become eligible to claim a spousal benefit based on YOUR spouse s earnings record.

The law which we are discussing is The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 on 11/02/2015 it Became Public Law No: 114-74

Here is the document

However that specific provision will be in effect starting May 1st of 2016.

See SEC. 831. CLOSURE OF UNINTENDED LOOPHOLES. on page 26 in this document.