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You can collect spousal benefits and wait until 70 to claim your retirement benefit if both of the following are true:
- You were born before Jan. 2, 1954.
- Your spouse is collecting his or her own Social Security retirement benefit.
This makes you eligible to file a “restricted application,” which allows you to collect a spousal benefit while putting off claiming your retirement benefit so it can grow. To do so, you should state in the remarks section of the application form that you wish to exclude your retirement benefit from the scope of your Social Security claim.
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Under a law Congress passed in 2015, people born after Jan. 1, 1954, cannot file a restricted application. They are covered by what Social Security calls “deemed filing: When they claim retirement benefits, they are also deemed to be claiming any spousal benefits they are entitled to, except under narrow circumstances.
Those still eligible to file a restricted application based on when they were born have until Jan. 1, 2024, to take advantage of the strategy. At that point, everyone in this group will have reached 70, the age at which people can claim their highest possible retirement benefit, so the point of collecting spousal benefits first would be moot.
Keep in mind
If you were born after Jan. 1, 1954, there are only two exceptions to the deemed-filing rule. It does not apply if you receive spousal benefits because you are caring for a child who is under 16 or disabled, or if you get spousal benefits and are also entitled to Social Security disability payments.