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AARP's Social Security Q&A Tool

My husband and I both worked. We're both about to turn 66 — my birthday comes a few months before his. I've heard there is a "claim and suspend" strategy that will allow us to maximize our benefits over the long term. How does that work?

En español | When you reach 66, file for Social Security, then immediately suspend those benefits.

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, when your husband reaches his full retirement age, he can apply for a spousal benefit based on your work record, because you've filed. Typically he'll get 50 percent of what your basic payment would have been. When he reaches 70, he can file for retirement benefits on his own record. Like yours, they will have grown by 32 percent over what they would have been at 66.

Typically, the first member of a couple who reaches full retirement age files first. But if your husband's benefits are greater than yours, he should consider being the first to file in order for you to get the larger spousal benefit.

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