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AARP's Social Security Q&A Tool

My spouse and I both worked. How can we use the claim and suspend strategy to maximize our benefits?

En español | The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 changed the file-and-suspend rules.  A spouse will not be able to collect benefits on the record of a worker who submits a request for suspension after April 29, 2016.  In addition, if you were born after January 1, 1954, you cannot file a restricted application for spouse’s benefits, even if you are full retirement age.

However, you can use the “file-and-suspend” strategy coupled with “claim now, claim more later” if you are age 66 before May 2016 and your spouse is age 62 before January 2, 2016.

If you reach age 66 before May 2016, you need to file for Social Security and suspend your benefits before April 30, 2016.

If you do this, your future benefits will increase about 8 percent for each year you wait. For example, waiting four years until 70 (when the annual increases top out) would mean that a $1,000-a-month benefit would rise to $1,320. Meanwhile, if your spouse was born before January 2, 1954, when they reach their full retirement age, they can file a restricted application for a spousal benefit based on your work record, because you've filed.  At full retirement age, they will get 50 percent of what your basic payment would have been. When they reach 70, they can file for retirement benefits on their own record. Like yours, they will have increased over what they would have been at 66.

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