For couples to receive the largest monthly Social Security check possible, experts generally recommend that the higher wage earner holds off until age 70 to begin collecting retirement benefits.
But often people cannot afford that delay if they retire before then, which explains why about 50% of them file early.
Some though, have discovered a perfectly legal way to increase their Social Security benefits by tens of thousands of dollars without waiting those extra years…
When you file for Social Security, you are automatically applying for your own retirement benefit and for any spousal benefit that is available. You’ll receive the higher one. You can’t choose which benefit to take; Washington does that for you. And that decision can never be changed.
On top of that, your benefit may be reduced for the rest of your life if you are not yet 70, which could also affect survivor benefits.
But a restricted application allows the husband or wife to file for spousal benefits only.
You could do this at your full retirement age — 66 — or later.
You received 50% of your spouse’s full retirement age benefit for up to four years while your delayed benefit grows. To use this strategy, your spouse must have already filed for benefits.
In 2015, Washington killed that loophole as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act.
The reasoning according to the Social Security Administration:
“Historically, spousal benefits were designed to be paid only to the extent they exceeded any benefit the spouse earned based on his or her own work record. This change in the law preserves the fairness of the incentives to delay, but it means that you cannot receive one type of benefit while at the same time earning a bonus for delaying the other benefit.”
In other words … the change is meant to prevent you from collecting only spousal benefits while your retirement benefit earns delayed credits.
The opportunity to file a restricted application for spousal benefits ended on April 30, 2016.
However, there are exceptions for an estimated 13 million boomers, but they expire the end of this year.
To Qualify to be Paid Now and Even More Later …
- Have been born between 1950 and 1953
- Be married or divorced
- Have not yet have filed for Social Security benefits
And your spouse or ex-spouse must have filed for retirement benefits.