We all suspected something needed to change to get Social Security back on track. As a result of recent swift action in Congress, we’re now seeing a move toward a tighter, more simplified Social Security system. Unfortunately, the impact will be felt by many American couples who were planning to take advantage of one of two options available for receiving enhanced income benefits upon retiring.
So here’s the headline: Congress is shutting down two popular Social Security claiming options: the file-and-suspend and restricted application strategies. In a nutshell, this means couples who were planning to have the lower-earning spouse receive spousal benefits while the higher-earning spouse delayed their own benefit past full retirement age (66 for most people) will no longer be able to do so. This option had allowed couples the benefit of growing the larger benefit while still receiving the smaller spousal benefit.
While I simply cannot address all scenarios in this discussion, I’ll attempt to simplify as much as possible. If you’re under the age of 62, the file-and-suspend and restricted application options will not be available to you. For those who are over the age of 62, you may have an option to adopt the restricted application option if you act within the next six months (must file by April 30, 2016). For those who are 65 ½ or older by October 30, 2015, you may still have the ability to choose either option.
As I’m writing this, I’m reminded how complex Social Security has become. Therefore, if you want more information about your specific options, please email or call me. I have a table that lays out more clearly who still has which options, based on age. To put it bluntly, it’s a messy table.
We’re in the process of working through the plans we’ve built to see who might be affected by this change. If you think you may be impacted, let us know so we can work with you to adjust.
As you can imagine, there is a lot of information available on this topic. If you’d like to read more, feel free to check out these articles:
Ultimately, the Social Security system has to undergo some changes for it to remain viable, as people are living longer and receiving greater benefits. Because this change occurred so rapidly, people are scrambling to figure out what it all means and how it may affect them. If we can help you work through your options, please reach out to us.