This wasn't always the case. In the past, couples could use a strategy called “file and suspend” in which one partner collected spousal benefits on the work record of another who had claimed and then suspended his or her own retirement benefit. In this way, both could earn delayed retirement credits that boosted their eventual Social Security payments. Congress closed the file-and-suspend loophole as part of a 2015 budget bill.
Keep in mind
There is an exception for former spouses. You can collect benefits on the work record of an ex who has not yet filed for his or her own Social Security benefits if all of the following hold:
- You are both 62 or older.
- The marriage lasted at least 10 years.
- You’ve been divorced for at least two years.